I believe that our loving Daddy deeply longs for us to understand His heart on the subject of testing and trials. In my last post, we talked about how Abraham stole God’s heart away and became His eternal friend, by allowing God to KNOW love in an experiential way. This was the life-changing meaning behind the introductory verse, “God tested Abraham” (Gen. 22:1) I promised you another post about the tests that we go through. Let’s explore this difficult subject further together today.
I am vividly remembering a time that I looked up into Jesus’ beautiful face to ask for His help. My heart wanted to understand more deeply why He allows me sometimes to suffer. I looked right into His eyes and asked, “I know to my very core that You love me. How can I reconcile Your intense love for me, with the pain You have allowed me to walk through? How can Your fiercely devoted, tender heart be okay with me aching? Please help me to understand.”
Yes, I know pretty much all the Bible verses there are to know about suffering. Here’s one of the most quoted, and most apt:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3).
So we learn that the painful circumstances of our lives will ultimately be for our good. Holy Spirit is developing character in us. But still! My heart cried out, not in rebellion against His management of my life, but in yearning to fathom what seemed contradictory. “How can You be at peace with using this affliction as the tool for my refining? If my pain hurts Your heart so much, why is this the way?”
As soon as I asked, He was answering me.
He explained my pain by telling me about His pain. I felt Him moving around inside my spirit to expand from within my understanding of this matter. He breathed revelation into me of what it means for Him to be Immanuel, God with us (Matt. 1:23). He shared with me that He personally experiences the pain of every human being on the planet, all the time. He steps directly into it.
He told His disciples, “Whoever rejects you rejects Me” (Luke 10:16). He was making clear to them that when they went through the sting of rejection, He felt it personally, to the very inmost chamber of His being. Those angry looks they internalized, those powerfully hurtful words piercing their hearts – each and every one went into His own depths. “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me” (Rom. 15:3, NIV), He said.
This truth did not just go for these twelve men that walked closely with Him – He told them that it was also true for every starving, naked, forsaken, sick, and imprisoned soul – in short, everyone who is hurting on the Earth. That when these downtrodden ones are cast away and shunned, He Himself is the recipient of their abuse:
“Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was Me—you did it to Me’ (Matt. 25:40, MSG).
Jesus Himself experiences the ultimate depths of human pain, every single day. He is Immanuel. He is involved. Profoundly, intensely involved. He is here. He is walking among us. The tiniest sigh of your discomfort sweeps through His entire being. Your pain is His pain. When you weep, His chest heaves with your sobs. Not just in sympathy, but because He is feeling what you feel even deeper and more keenly than what you feel it.
Multiply that by seven billion. That’s a tremendous load of pain. Not to mention six thousand years of human history in which He has been making a pattern out of owning our agony. Not to mention the place where He carried it all to the supreme degree of internalization – Calvary’s hill. Isaiah the prophet looked forward through time to the unbearable emotional and spiritual anguish Jesus would take into Himself when He died for the world:
“He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. (NLT)
He was hated, and we didn't even notice him.
But he took our suffering on him and felt our pain for us” (NCV). (Is. 53:3-4a)
The Lord told me that before anything existed, He was brooding deeply over the creation of the world. He looked into the future, and He saw all of it. He saw every single heart wrenching, agonizing scene. He saw Himself completely submerged in, wrapped up in, living inside of, each one.
He saw the enraged husbands beating the wives. He saw the demonized soldiers raping the villagers. He saw the burning buildings. He saw the ashes and the scattered, broken bricks. He heard the terrified babies screaming. His heart took in the wrenching cries. And He saw you. He gazed upon your own face and whispered your name. He saw every occurrence of heartbreak you would face in your short lifetime here. He saw Himself weeping, grieving, in the midst of each and every one of them. Beforehand, He already tasted the raw ache His soul would carry day after day, year after year, millennium after millennium, as Immanuel. He fully anticipated the cup that He would drink – your pain, my pain, everybody’s pain. It would be fully His own.
And then He looked beyond it all. He gazed forward into eternity. He drank in, ahead of time, the absolute bliss of being entwined with you forever and ever. He saw the joy set before Him. YOU are the joy set before Him. He closed His eyes and was captivated by the picture of ecstasy that He saw: you and Him as one, swirling in a forever sea of intimacy and rapturous, unspeakable delight. And in His infinite wisdom, He knew that no matter how immeasurable the pain He would bear, it would be exceedingly worth it. To be with you. Endlessly lost in love.
He is looking right at you in this moment. Look up into His eyes. They have born the pain of the ages. In them is an indescribable depths of love for you. He gestures with a movement of His head at all of His suffering. And, gazing deep, deep into your inmost being, He says in the most tender of tones, “My love, you are worth it all! All of this, to have you in My arms!”
Jesus measured all of the pain to come. He knew that birthing the Creation would come at an extraordinarily great personal cost. And He chose to create the world anyway because He KNEW that the euphoria of having you for all eternity would far outweigh what it would cost Him.
In the same moment, He drew from His unsearchable wisdom, and He knew something else: it would also be worth it for you. “Consider it pure joy” is no cruel joke, no exaggeration, and no hyperbole. Even the most piercing, penetrating pain fits into the biblical category of “our light and momentary troubles” (2 Cor. 4:17) when shifted into the perspective of the everlasting elation that is up ahead. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” He isn’t lying, dearly beloved treasure of His heart! Far outweighs! That eternal glory of oneness with Him really, really does. It far, far, FAR outweighs every single tear!!!
When we get there, all of this will look like nothing at all compared to the bliss. “Not even worth comparing” to the ineffable glorious reality that will surround and overwhelm us forever (Rom. 8:18)! Not even worthy of being placed on the scale together.
He said to “rejoice and be exceedingly glad” about the reward of your suffering (Matt. 5:12). When the moment comes to stand face to face with the One who loves you more than His life, with Him who has walked through every sorrow you face and made it His own – when He marries you and wraps you up forever in His embrace of breathtaking intimacy, you will know – all that pain is now gone forever. You’ll sink into His arms and exclaim in exultation from your deepest heart… that none of it was anything at all compared to the unending ecstasy that is about to begin!
My sweet, sweet Lord Jesus, Lover of my soul, thank You for choosing to create me! You knew that making me, making us, making this world, would pierce you through and through. It would wound you in the worst way that anyone can be wounded. But You decided that I was worth it. That the immeasurable joy of being one with me forever was so much more than the hurt. I come into agreement with Your infinite, unsearchable wisdom! Whatever I am going through today, is worth it, that I could revel in Your heart, in Your closeness, in Your union, in Your love glory, for all of eternity. Please open the eyes of my spirit more and more to see this present moment in the light of Your eternal perspective. And thank You that today, right now, You are the Healer of my inmost being. You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever!
Blogger’s note: My husband, children, and I will be heading to the U.S. for three months of itinerating in just over a week. Our schedule will be extremely full during that time, so I anticipate having significantly less time available for blogging. Once the trip is over, I should be able to resume my regular posting schedule. Thank you for following my blog, and be richly blessed today!