The Precious Gift of Having Suffered

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The other week, I had a chance to talk to a group of students about of my journey with Chronic Fatigue. I talked about the darkness, the grief and the sometimes overwhelming feelings of despair, but I also talked about the hope and joy I have found through my relationship with Jesus.

At the end of the lesson, I was surprised when one of the students stayed behind.

“I just wanted to talk to you” he said, “because you’ve been through the same thing that I’m going through now.”

He then went on to tell me about what was going on in his life. Indirectly, he was dealing with issues of death and divorce, sexual abuse, neglect, overwork and worry. His circumstances were overwhelming, and poles apart from anything I had ever experienced.

I couldn’t understand why he was talking to me as though I’d been there too. Suddenly I realized: for perhaps the first time, an adult had opened up about being in dark places and finding a way through. My comparatively small affliction had given me credibility in a world of suffering and pain.

My illness has tattooed into me the exclusive pass code to a world where hurting people need hope. People come to me, and listen to me, because they see in me someone who has been there and survived. It is a privileged position to be in.

May God grant me the grace to see the blessings of suffering shine more brightly than the pain.

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When I’m the Worst Version of Myself

840879_woman_prayingI had a bit of a “bleh” day the other day. Nothing happened in particular, but I just felt like I’d been the worst version of myself.

God felt like a distant pen-pal whom I’d forgotten to write to for a while and, as I reflected on the day, I saw a lot more of ‘me’ in me, than Christ in me.

Blessedly, I knew the antidote. I went into the lounge room with a cup of tea, a blanket (the dreaded winter is upon us) and my Bible.

I opened to where I’ve been reading. Galatians 3. “…did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? … After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”

What a great reminder. On those days when we are the worst version of ourselves, grace still covers us.

I am saved by grace, through faith, not by works, and there is now no condemnation!138261

The point is, I fail. I screw up. I don’t represent myself well, let alone Christ, but, (praise God) my salvation and sanctification was never dependant on my efforts.

When I am the worst version of myself, He is still the best version of Himself.