The Yoking of Suffering with Intimacy - Carol Krum
The Holy Spirit led me to an old journal recently that was written during the year following the death of my 17-year-old grandson, which was 5 years ago. Oftentimes it serves us well to revisit those places from which we have been restored, if for no other reason but to observe our own growth where the character of Christ within us has so quietly been formed without our noticing. Our suffering is tenderly woven together in intimacy with the One who loves us more than any other. This divine formation does not develop due to any “feeling” we have, because in the midst of suffering it is difficult to lasso any one feeling for very long. The shock of sudden physical or emotional pain can grip our souls with such tenacity that it has the potential of temporarily throwing us off our axis of life.
As I read through the pages of my journal, I discovered how my suffering was intimately yoked with my Beloved. Though my soul was ravaged by sorrow and disappointment, my spirit clung desperately to the love that never ceases, never separates, and certainly never fails! One entry that I found was written on a page where my tears had actually smeared the ink. It was an extremely painful moment and I had reached for my bible to see if the Lord might speak a comforting word to me. I opened it at random, only to discover tucked in the page was the obituary notice of Austin’s death. There was his sweet face staring up at me. And this is what I read:
“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of
the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His
temple. For in the time of trouble, He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place
of His tabernacle He shall hide me. He shall set me high upon a rock. And now my head
shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me. Therefore, I will offer sacrifices of
joy in His tabernacle. I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord, when I cry with my
voice! Have mercy upon me, and answer me. When You said, ‘Seek My face’, my heart
said to You, Your face, Lord, I will seek!” Psalm 27:4-8
Here I sat with tears streaming down my face, only to hear the voice of my Beloved reminding me of my position in His presence. I was in that secret place of His tabernacle. Yes, I was actually “tabernacling” with Him where my spirit, not my soul, could sing praises to Him with the sacrifice of joy. My soul would eventually catch up, but in the meantime, my spirit would create a path for it to follow.
I share this glimpse into a corner of my story to encourage anyone who is in the midst of their own season of suffering. All of our lives bear witness to His goodness, His provision in times of need, His kindness and gentleness when sorrow grips our ravaged soul, His patience while we may wander about in our own desert of temporary confusion, seeking answers in the wrong places. Oh how very faithful He is! How tenderly He loves us, never asking more of us than we can give in those moments. Yet His Holy Spirit within us causes us to cry out to Him in faith, knowing that He does hear and answer us. In our weakness, He is strong, so very strong!
Though our years on this earth are but a dash in the scope of eternity, they hold glorious opportunities for us to grow and mature in character, in wisdom, in the fruit of the Spirit, in holiness, in all the ways He has called us to become more like Him. No wonder James tells us to consider it pure joy when trials come! (James 1:2) He doesn’t mean to rejoice in the suffering, but rather in the potentiality of who we may become as a result of the suffering. And that is what we will present to the Father when we are called back home.
To Him be the glory now and forever!
Carol Krum is the Partner Coordinator at the Spokane Headquarters and our resident encourager in joy.