We can experience much more in the life of faith than any of us are prepared to expose ourselves to. But, as we know with grief, life exposes us to some things beyond our capacity to bear.
It wasn’t losing Nathanael in 2014 that revealed to me what I’m about to share, but losing him reinforced this holy principle that is forever set apart from those who have never suffered. I learned this principle I’m going to share through the grief of having earlier had God say ‘No!’ to my prayers for healing — for my first marriage.
When God also said ‘No!’ to healing Nathanael as he grew in my wife’s womb toward that fateful day he was stillborn, we were granted entry into the deeper secret faith life that is available only for those whose prayers aren’t answered. It is sacred territory.
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Yes, you read that right. In not answering our prayers for healing and comfort to be given to us the way we wanted it…
God gave us a comfort and a healing that blew apart our superficial notions of healing and comfort. God blew those superficial notions away so we could enter something eternally deeper.
There is a Deeper Compensation for the Costs of Discipleship We Bear
God is taking us deeper into the journey of life by the circumstances of our testing. This is not about God ordaining pain for us, for that would be a wretched theology, but it is about God ordaining a purpose for the experience we can find can no escape from. Jesus is redeeming it. Some things cannot come without suffering. True compassion, for one instance, for compassion, in the etymology of the word, emanates from pain. Compassion is costly and there is a price to pay. And yet it’s those who have never suffered deeply who cannot believe this. It’s something Jesus must show us as we enter the furnace of grief with Him.
We never enter that cauldron of pain willingly, yet as we step each step through sheer dependence on Him, because we’re so weak, Jesus is there. There we experience a healing that is so profound it transforms us in the very compassion of Jesus. We meet it and it becomes us. And that compassion sanctifies us. Compassion literally becomes us.
If we have a Saviour who suffered, and Jesus didn’t just suffer at the cross, we can only truly know Him through suffering. Sorry, but this is true. And you know it if you read this through the lens of your experience that broke you.
As the cross broke Jesus, our crosses must break us. In our case, God cannot remake what is still intact.
Central to the understanding of what I’m sharing is a principle outlined in Psalm 84, verse 6. As we enter the valley of our desolation and weeping — where day upon day, over the months, we travail — and this is not easy to write! — we must realise that God’s Presence is never closer. He is there with us, within the torment. We call out to Him and as our anguish floors us, Jesus is there. He shows us that He identifies with the brutality of our agony. And He gives us something our hearts have looked all our lives for; a spring of life wells up from within…
‘Yes!’ is Not Always Best
Have you ever thought of this? In having answers to our prayers with ‘Yes!’ for healing, we can miss what deeper faith God has for us, or we don’t receive it; we’re not granted access to the most glorious prize. Yet, it is enough to be saved from grief. Any of us would take that gift, and so we should.
Miracles of growth are possible when we stare deeply into God in grief. In the very fact that our prayers are not answered the way we have hoped, there, in that, is a series of miracles nestled. Because God brought us here for a reason. To reveal to us what we otherwise could or would not see.
The deeper secret that God wishes to share with us is also a deeper secret that will exponentially expand our mind and heart for Him. The more we trust Jesus, the more He will take us deeper into this secret of our knowledge of who He is. This deeper secret cannot come without much anguish.
Do you realise that that prayer that God answers with a ‘No’ is the very material of a fathoms deeper miracle that God wants us to experience — if we will go there with Him.
He reveals in this that we really do not know what we want. Jesus knows what we need, and we need to trust Him.
Let us return in finishing to the place we started.
We can experience much more in the life of faith than any of us can prepare to expose ourselves to. We’re blissfully unaware of the common life experiences that we go decades without experiencing; grief for one.
For the place of grief, the Lord has situated a compensation that is its own gift.