It has been during some of my times of greatest struggle that I have had the sweetest communion with God. Here is a quote from my book:
From “More Precious Than Gold”
I adjusted the ice pack on my head gently as it started to conform to my head. The gentle coolness was a mild relief after two days of unrelenting pain. I was spent, barely able to move my arms, lips, or eyelids. Unable to produce many words aloud, I silently imagined what heaven would be like. I pictured my glorified body, pain-free and easy-moving. My body relaxed as I thought of God’s presence. On this third day, unable to talk fluently with people carrying on with their earthly lives, I experienced sweet communion with God in a way that I never had before: peace.
Even though I dread the physical pain that precedes moments like these, I look forward to the recognition of God’s presence. He is always with me (Joshua 1:9; Hebrews 13:5), but I’m not always paying attention to Him. I get focused on my tasks for the day or my plans for the following day, and I sometimes forget to focus on Him. I think this is one reason why He allows my trials; He refocuses my attention so that I am aware of the fullness of His love.
From “Trial by the Word” by Charles Spurgeon
See how the mother presses her dear babe to her bosom when it is sick, or has had a bone broken; the little one may run about the house at other times, and the mother is pleased with it and loves it, but if you want to see all her tenderness; if you would read all her heart, you should see her when it scarcely breathes, when she fears that every moment will be its last. Then the entire mother is revealed! How she fondles it, and what a store of sweet words she brings forth! So if you would see all of God, you must know what deeps of trouble mean, for then the great heart, the glorious, infinite love comes welling over, and the soul is filled with all the fullness of God!
I need these reminders. Without them, I would probably drift farther and farther away, lost in my own thoughts and distracted by the world around me. Encouraged by these deep expressions of God’s love that come when I am struggling the most, I feel renewed for whatever trial may be marching toward me next; God helps me to persevere and gives me hope. Therefore, I can more easily embrace my trials.
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
Although I use the word “embrace,” I have had to stop and consider what this word really means in this context. Does it mean that I should be happy when I feel a migraine coming on? From a human perspective, it is difficult to imagine being happy about the experience of pain. Jesus humbly requested that the cup be removed from Him (Luke 22:42), and His sweat was like blood (Luke 22:44) as He anticipated the suffering He was about to endure. This does not give me the impression that He was looking forward to the physical and emotional sensations He would experience in His humanness. Therefore, I do not believe that this is what is meant by the word “embrace.”
With Jesus as the perfect example, I can fix my eyes on Him for further insight. Hebrews 12:2 points out that Jesus endured His cross “for the joy set before Him.” What was this joy?
From “The Rule of the Race” by Charles Spurgeon
Jesus had before Him the great joy of glorifying the Father in the salvation of His chosen. For this He lived, for this He died; it was a joy to Him to think of accomplishing this object. Beloved, if you want to run your race aright, it must be for the glory of God, and in the hope of the salvation of your fellow men. These two things, blended into one, must be your joy.
In other words, Jesus was able to experience joy within a trial for reasons that superseded human sensations. He wanted to glorify God. He wanted to provide a means of salvation for all who would come to Him for it. He was joyful to submit to His Father’s will; His joy came from knowing why He endured. This perfect example is my inspiration; I can learn to embrace suffering, replacing the dread with joy. Although I may not know the “why” details as Jesus did, I do know that God will work something good (Romans 8:28); He will be glorified, and this gives me joy.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.