Several nights ago, the feelings gripped me and wouldn't let go. I sat in my closet chair, hoping for another message from God. (I'm pretty sure He was talking to me, but I was hearing the same things over and over again, and I didn't want to believe that was all He had to say.) I cried in my closet chair, then on the floor of my closet, then in the big, comfy chair in our bedroom. I refused to get into bed because I didn't want to associate the bed with my bad feelings and experience residual insomnia. Mike woke me up when he came to bed, and I seemed to be over it.
A few days ago, I picked up my mom's study Bible because it was new to me. I opened it at random (my favorite way to read the Bible) to 2 Chronicles chapters 32 and 33 and read all about kings humbling themselves. (Okay, fine. I do think too highly of myself at times. That's probably why I allow myself to feel so dramatically.) Then I flipped some pages and landed in Job, book of suffering. How appropriate, eh? I am always grateful that God does not allow me to be tested like Job. I read the lesson on the page. Even though I don't have the questions Job had about whether God cares for me, the lesson reminded me that God will use this for His glory, somehow. The end of the lesson leads to more reading, one passage of which was Romans 8:17-18 (I included verse 16 here):
"The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."
The next reading was 1 Peter 2:21 (I've included 19 and 20):
"For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps."
Finally, 1 Peter 4:12-13:
"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed."
I need repeat reminders that my suffering, however large or small, serves a purpose, so I don't feel sorry for myself. Isn't it so easy to feel sorry for ourselves? It takes a true effort just to push past that urge. Struggles like these make me so glad I know Jesus. He gives me the strength to overcome my emotions and to keep my eyes open for how He'll use my situation. Now, emotions are not bad. God acknowledges our emotions but also, all throughout the Bible, reminds us that what we do with our emotions is most important.
The important part of that last thought is that the Bible reminds us what to do. The same day that God put Job's lesson before me, the Beth Moore devotion for the day was poignant:
"The healthiest Christians you will ever meet are those who take a daily dose of God's word and choose to believe it works."
(On a side note, the back of the book reads another Beth Moore quote: "Beloved, you will never waste time in God's Word.")
So, what is the best way to handle our suffering? Is it to get upset? Is it to pretend like nothing is wrong?
I believe we need to acknowledge how we feel. Suffering is not what we desire. Still, peace and joy are what we should pursue. The only way to find those is to live intentionally in God's word.