In celebration of Nancy's Voices of the True Woman Movement book release, we asked a few staff members and friends of the ministry to share their reflections on different chapters of the book. This is part 7 of a nine-part series. Enjoy!
“Why not cooperate with what God is doing in your life—preparing you through difficulty and hardship for His beauty to come shining through?”
Joni’s biblical message of suffering is one I need to hear regularly. Joni—a quadriplegic for over 40 years—begins chapter 7 by reminding us that we are God's treasured possession (Mal. 3:16-17). Because of His love for us, He refines us like silver and tests us like gold. Using a hammer and chisel, He lovingly works on us, that we might look more like Jesus. Our heavenly Father cares about our broken hearts and trials, but His focus is on shaping us and molding us for His own glory. I want that, I really do. To be like Him. However, I'm not so sure I want the suffering that brings the refining and shining.
Although I have not suffered long or greatly, Joni's life and words have come to mind often the past 1 ½ years, since I heard her speak at the first True Woman Conference. I have seen that I have not suffered well in trials, hardships, or even small inconveniences. I have wasted my suffering and been quick to murmur, complain, push away, collapse in defeat, and retreat to despair and unbelief.
Recently I had my fourth kidney stone. Have you ever had one? The pain is unrelenting, consuming, and unresponsive to any “over-the-counter” pain meds. It's a paralyzing, helpless, hopeless kind of feeling. My initial response to the pain was to focus inwardly and whimper to Jesus for relief. I was reminded of Joni and her day-after-day, one-thing-after-another trials, and wondered how could I complain about anything? Surely this was a light and momentary affliction (2 Cor. 4:17). I remembered Joni's admonition that God knows what is best. He truly does.
I reminded myself of the truth that God will not give me more than I can handle. And that He is good and kind and wise and worthy of my trust. I found that as I humbled myself, cooperated with God, and received this difficult circumstance that He had allowed, I was able to rest in Him. But as the pain subsided over the next few days, I found myself whining about my trial and not thanking God for His care and provision in the midst of the pain. Conviction! I still have much to learn, but as Joni said, “I want to be where God's grace is.” And if His grace for my life is in suffering for a season, that's what I want, too.