Saturday, March 17, 2012

{Saturdays are for Seeing} Praising through the Pain

This week in Good News club, this was our memory verse:

“Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)

We read the story in Acts 16 about how Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into jail for doing the work of the LORD. In this extremely hard time, they still rejoiced in the LORD.

Wouldn’t you know, I avoided studying for this lesson How could I teach children to “rejoice in the LORD always” and explain that means in good times and in bad times, and not even do that myself?! Yes, I, me, had to stand in front of children and teach them that as Christians we are to rejoice in the LORD always, even in the hard times.

I mean Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown in prison and it says they “were praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25)

Do you know how convicting it was for me to have to teach this lesson, after last Saturdays post?? It was like God was holding up a mirror to my face saying, this isn’t just for the children to know and memorize, it’s for you too daughter of mine.

How quick am I to offer advice to someone struggling to see past the pain, and yet slow to take that advice for myself.

I offer Romans 8:28 to people and reject it in my own life.

Like Job said, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10)

If Romans 8:28 is really true, He works ALL things (good, bad, hard, ugly) for my good, then why do I always want to push my way out of the trial and hurry my way through the lesson? I celebrate the good, and want to flee from the bad.

I guess because I’m human, I mean no one seeks out pain, right?! But really, what if the trials are meant to be a blessing? (Oh now I sound like Ann Voskamp, just way less creative and poetic). I just can’t wrap my heart or my mind around that. How the painful can be beautiful. How the trial can be a blessing. How the journey can be refining.

Why do I always just want to run away instead of run to the LORD?

Then I remember, my life is not my own.
It’s not my kingdom, it’s His kingdom.
It’s not my plans, it’s His plans.

I have been given every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3) and He is my all in all. The rest of my life is to be conformed into His image, and that means pursuing Christ more than pursuing comfort.

And you know what else is crazy about this little verse and story that I taught to a bunch of 5-6-7-8 year olds? In the midst of their pain, because Paul and Silas rejoiced in their suffering, the prison guard came to know the Lord Jesus and was saved!

So sometimes the best evangelism is rejoicing in the Lord, praising Him through pain. (Not for the pain, but through the pain). People see the LORD at work when our life is hard, painful, and messy and yet we praise Him always.

“Rejoice in the LORD always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)

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