Afflicted But Not Crushed

It’s 3:30 AM as I sit here typing this. I should be asleep. I have tried, but I am in pain; and alas, sleep will not come. I have done some prayerful meditation in this time, and it’s really gotten me thinking. I am at a turning point in my walk with God. The Lord has nudged and prodded, and sometimes flat out shoved me right out of my spiritual comfort zone and out into the unknown. It’s a very exciting (and admittedly more than a little terrifying) place to be. He has allowed me to see so much more of his character, and his vision of my purpose is becoming clearer to me. He doesn’t want me to be a “Back Row Baptist” as we call them at our church. He wants me all in, completely sold out, ready to give up whatever it takes to follow him. As in the Bible series my husband and I are going through, Not a Fan. God doesn’t want fans with their Jesus fish bumper stickers and NOTW t-shirts. He wants us to take up our cross daily and follow him. (Matthew 16:24-26) What does that mean? What was Jesus doing when he took up his own cross? He was beaten nearly dead, and he had to carry that huge cross up to where he was about to be crucified. This is what he has asked of us, to take up our crosses daily and FOLLOW him, come what may. Jesus, I am there. I’m ready. Whatever it takes, whatever he asks, I am prepared.

And already, he has asked, and I have given. Already the Lord has been changing my heart and our lives as a family. Through seemingly small sacrifices for the Lord, our family is already seeing huge changes – all good ones!

However, at the same time as this amazing new fire was lit within my soul, I was physically afflicted. I cannot help but think of the Apostle Paul and his thorn that he wrote of. (Not that I am saying that I am anything like Paul, or his level of knowledge, his impact, or his spirituality – I can only wish!) I find myself likening this situation to Paul nonetheless, because I realize that God allows afflictions. I am praying for understanding as to why I am going through all this right now. Sometimes God allows it to reveal sin in our lives, sometimes it’s simply Satan throwing a hissy fit over seeing God work mightily in one of his children. And sometimes, as with Paul, God allows it to keep us humble. I am praying great deal on this, and I am pleading with the Lord to make his reasons clear to us. And if it is in his will, more than anything, I am petitioning him for healing! I would greatly appreciate any prayers you all have to spare for me! But no matter what, I will not lose my joy.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:8-10,16-18)

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