I have been getting so much out of Joni Eareckson Tada's book Glorious Intruder that I thought I would share a section I read today that really gave me a different perspective on suffering. My prayer is that it will help you too!
Over the years, many people have asked me, "How do you do it, Joni? How do you cope with your paralysis? How can you bear it?" I've wondered the same thing of others. Every time I look at someone who is totally blind or deaf, I think, How in the world can they do it? ....
Suffering, and our ability to stand up strong in it, is relative. in 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul assures us that our Lord will never tempt or test us beyond what we can bear. The apostle further reminds us that God's grace willl never be in short supply. "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8).
Through God's grace, Vicky and others like her have been able to bear up under a severe paralysis. But God has not chosen that level of limitation for me. Yes, I am paralyzed, but only to the degree that I can, with His grace, live a joyful and meaningful life.Not everyone can be trusted with suffering. Not everyone can endure a fiery ordeal. So the Master scrutinizes the jewels and carefully selects those which can bear the refining, the branches which can stand the knife. It is given for some to preach, for others to work, for others to give, and for still others to suffer.Where do you fit on that scale? Perhaps you're not paralyzied. You may not be deaf or blind or carry the seeds of cancer in your body. God know that you are not the one to handle - even with all of His resources of grace - that kind of suffering.But he has selected you to handle that particular, unique, individual set of circumstances in your own life. Your singleness. Your marriage. Your sterility. Your prision term. Your finances. Your job. Your unemploymnet. Your background. Your physical appearence, abilities, and educational opportunities.Whatever you would call "suffering" in your own life, God has allowed it. Even purposed it.Don't you dare think you can't handle it! First Corinthians 10:13 promises that you can not only handle it, but glorify God in it.So don't be looking at the man with cerebral palsy, thinking, How does he manage? Don't be looking at the saintly wife who exhibits a submissive and quiet heart in an abusive family situation and think, I could never do that. Don't shake your head when you see a mom or dad with a Downs Syndrome child and say, No way I could face that.Most likely you couldn't. Which is precisely why God hasn't asked you to. Instead, take time to seriously consider how you will remain joyful and obedient within your own particular, unique, individual situation. Accept your circumstances as a gift from His hand. Dare to thank Him for them.Not everyone could be trusted with what you're wrestling with today, but you have been so trusted. Find meaning and joy as you draw on His resources ... and persevere.The grace is God's. The choice is yours.
Wow! Challenging, isn't it? The first thing I do when I undergo trials in my life is complain or begin to feel sorry for myself - I really need to change my perspective and see my trials as a God-given opportunity to serve Him and demonstrate His glory. Father help me I pray!