This is my last installment in this little series about “how suffering has helped make room for God in my life.” Like most people, my life has come with its ups and downs. And some of the downs have become a chronic part of life. As I mentioned in the first post, a friend challenged me to think about my health struggles, from the perspective of how these hard times create space for God. In the first post, I mentioned that my difficulties have made room in my theology for God. I understand the love, the power and even the will of God differently than before; which has produced a new intimacy with Him. In my second post, I wrote about how suffering has created space for the power of God. When I began to accept my own weakness as a gift from God, it gave opportunity for God’s power to work in unimaginable ways.
Today, I’m sharing how suffering has created space for the perspective of God. God’s perspective is so different from ours. Not only does he see everything in the here and now. But he sees all of eternity. We see how things affect us today. We may even see, in our mind’s eye, what we hope for tomorrow. Our view does not go far. Today, I was walking my dog and a helicopter flew over. It was large and loud. She was confused and a little nervous. She looked ahead, she looked behind. Her head darted side to side. But she never looked up. In fact, I can’t remember when I last saw my dog looking to the sky. That’s not the way she’s wired.
We are interminably wired to look to the here and now. We focus on how things are going to affect our lives, or the lives of those we love, in the present physical world. Suffering can change that. When a doctor tells you “I’m not sure what to do with you.” It can create fear, or it can create a new space. It is space to begin thinking from a new perspective. Maybe my plan for the next 20, 10, or 5 years isn’t the reality I should live focusing on, because it isn’t reality at all. What is reality is eternity with a forever God.
I think Paul tied eternal thinking and suffering together for a reason. He wrote,“For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).”
Affliction should make us look beyond ourselves and our circumstances to the eternal. All we see today will go away. The stuff in my storage unity is gone. My career will be toast. What will last? What lasts are the love, grace, power, will and glory of God. And as we align ourselves with that through faith in the Savior, we become part of that eternity. I shared once that one of the great lessons of this stage of my life is that I am temporary. Someone once said that even our families won’t know us in just 3 short generations. My accomplishments are temporary. And that’s okay. Because it leaves room in my life for the eternal. My sufferings have given me the freedom to let go a little more of the trappings of the temporary for the joy of the eternal.
I hope as you face various trials, instead of all the attempts to fix them, you find the freedom there is in refocusing on forever. I’m not there at every moment of every day. But when things are tough, I get there a little more quickly as God uses these things in my life to make space for what will last.
How might you let God create space for Him in the next difficulty you face? How does He want to change how you think about Him? How does He want to show you a power you’ve never known? How does He want to create space to think differently about your future with Him?
I’d enjoy continuing the conversation with you.