Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Meaningful Suffering

Taken from Streams in the Desert, September 8)
“Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.” Psalm 4:1

This verse is one of the greatest testimonies ever written regarding the effectiveness of God’s work on our behalf during times of crisis. It is a statement of thanksgiving for having been set free not from suffering but rather through suffering. In stating “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress,” the psalmist is declaring that the sorrows of life have themselves been the source of life’s enlargement.

Haven’t each of us experienced this a thousand times and found it to be true? Someone once said of Joseph that when he was in the dungeon, “iron entered his soul.” And that strength of iron is exactly what he needed, for earlier he had only experienced the glitter of gold. He has been rejoicing in youthful dreams, and dreaming actually hardens the heart. Someone who sheds great tears over a simple romance will not be of much help in a real crisis, for true sorrow will be too deep for him. We all need the iron in life to enlarge our character. The gold is simply a passing vision, whereas the iron is the true experience of life. The chain that is the common bond uniting us to others must be that of iron. The common touch of humanity that gives the world true kinship is no joy but sorrow-gold is partial to only a few, but iron is universal.

Dear soul, if you want your sympathy for others to be enlarged, you must be willing to have your life narrowed by certain degrees of suffering. Joseph’s dungeon was the very road to his throne, and he would have been unable to lift the iron load of his brothers had he not experienced the iron in his own life. Your life will be enlarged in proportion to the amount of iron you have endured, for it is in the shadows of your life that you will find the actual fulfillment of your dreams of glory. So do not complain about the shadows of darkness-in reality, they are better than your dreams could ever be. Do not say that the darkness of the prison has shackled you, for your shackles are wings-wings of flight into the heart and soul of humanity. And the gate of your prison is the gate into the heart of the universe. God has enlarged you through the suffering of sorrow’s chain.

George Matheson: If Joseph had never been Egypt’s prisoner, he would have never been Egypt’s governor. The iron chain that bound his feet brought about the golden chain around his neck.

I consider it a privilege that God is using my life. He is using the hurt and the suffering we are experiencing to minister to others, and for that I am grateful. I don't always like where we are, but I am thankful for His promises that He uses ALL things for good, and my trust and hope is in Him. What do people do that don't have eternal hope that one day all our tears will be wiped away? Thank you Jesus for pulling me out of the darkest of places and for the hope we have in Christ. Thank you for bearing my burdens and healing my brokenness. You are so good.....


  1. On this difficult road of grief, it is a comfort to know that nothing ~ not one tear ~ is wasted. God will use even our sorrows to glorify Himself and draw others into His kingdom.
    Praying journey mercies for you, Jerrod and Cooper as you travel this road.

  2. what a beautiful aroma you are to God.

  3. I am moved by your insight into eternity that you have been able to share with us. . .I am praising God for you and am learning from you! Love, Jen (Ratzlaff)

  4. I enjoy reading your blog. You have such a sweet heart. I agree that God uses pain so that we rely on Him and experience Him in more intimate ways. Pain is a part of life, God promises that life won't be easy. I feel like I have a testimony of suffering from growing up apart from the Lord. I also feel like more suffering is to come. Maybe it's in church planting, who know's what the future holds. In June we will move to Phoeinx, a dry and barren land. I don't want to anticipate hard times but I think being in ministry you are on the front lines of the battle field. Tim Lundy recently challenged us to explore our greatest fears.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    Leslie Rice