Saturday, December 6, 2008

When Jesus Wraps This All Up

I have a friend who struggles with depression.  I have learned much in the process of walking beside her as she deals with the challenges of a medical condition that impacts her from every angle: relationships, attitudes, productivity, self-worth, faith, sleep, energy.  

Today I received an email from her, in which she shared part of an outpouring of gratitude to God for the lessons learned through this struggle.  She's in a good place in this season, where she's recovering energy and feeling productive and focused.

I have been humbled to realize how much more there is to consider as I interact with people.  There were many times of interaction with my friend when I had no idea of the internal struggle she faced.  It disturbs me to know that I'm often so caught up in my own junk that I don't stop to consider - really consider, with more than just a cursory "how ya doin'?" - how somebody else is feeling.

The more open and honest we are with one another, the more God is able to refine us, to help us arm ourselves with the same attitude as Christ.  My friend wrote: 
"Thank you, Lord. The pain of what I’ve been through has been indescribable. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I wouldn’t want to go through it again. And it’s not completely over yet. But I’m enough on this side of it to begin to understand how You are using it…how You are shaping me through it."
And as I read through 1 Peter this morning, I was struck by one of my favorite passages, in which Peter writes about the awesome inheritance, new birth and hope we have because of Jesus' resurrection - "an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you".  I continued reading, and then turned to The Message to gain another perspective.  I was struck by the power of these words, as I considered what my friend has been through, how she is fighting to grasp the reality of how God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  Here's what Peterson gave us:
"I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it's your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory."
I pray today for eyes that see, for ears that hear truth as I interact with others day to day.  And I pray that I will continually keep in mind that "aggravation of every kind" - in my life and others' - is the catalyst for a process that ultimately results in a display of God's victory.

*Want some encouragement in your own struggles?  Check out 1 Peter 1.3-9.  Read it in the NIV, and then check it out in The Message.  If you don't have a copy, try Bible Gateway.


Kelley said...

and THIS is why I love Beth Brawley. Beautifully written, Friend...beautiful...

Patty P said...

Isn't it nuts how we can be so wrapped up in ourselves that we fail to see the bajillions of suffering folks around us? What touches my heart and brings me to my knees is when I know there is a perfect opportunity to bring someone to christ or just bring them to church and I don't do it because I've got so much insecurity holding me back. It's easy to see after the fact, but I still feel guilty. Rightly so.

Mary said...

See, Beth? You really don't even have to try to make people feel better. You just do.