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Submission Over Suffering

Over the last two years, I have suffered from a debilitating disease. What made my misery worse was the physical pain that changed my outlook and imprisoned my thought life. I found that bodily pain adds to emotional turmoil; it does not act alone. Instead of dealing with one source of dismay, the trial has two heads. Affliction muddles your thinking and impedes the work of godly wisdom. As time passes, dark thoughts can lead to bitterness or hinder your assurance of salvation.

Before my diagnosis, I took my medical journey lightly and assumed the difficulty would end soon. I prayed and went about my business. As the year closed, my illness progressed, and the trial no longer had a casualness to it. The stabs of pain became more prominent, and I lay awake several nights wondering what was going on. 

Then in the second year, I prayed for God to heal me. Instead, He added to the test by allowing me to undergo issues with medical insurance and doctors who could care less about how much I ached. I fought for months, trying to convince surgeons to operate despite my lackluster HMO benefits. Yet none found my case pathetic enough to help me.

At my wit’s end, I grabbed my Bible and opened it to key passages on hardships, but none ended my discomfort. I followed the path of highlighted verses in my Bible, then read 1 Peter 5:6-7, which says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you; casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

Humble yourselves? I felt like I was at my lowest already. Had I not groveled before God in prayer? My eyes fell to the MacArthur Study Bible notes, which said, “One of the evidences of lack of submission and humility is impatience with God in His work of humbling believers. Christians should cast all their discontent, discouragement, despair, and suffering on the Lord and trust Him for knowing what He’s doing with their lives.”

That was a gut punch. Those words were meant for me that day. In my distress, I fought God, not knowing what He wanted. I needed Him to act on my schedule, not on His. Like a spoiled child, I made my demands, but God did not budge.

“Bend your knee,” I told myself. I wrestled my pride into submission and released my suffering to God. I confessed that I had no interest in physical pain. I had tasted the sourness of that type of grief and preferred not to return. However, if that’s what God willed for me, I would accept it and hang on.

A couple of months later, God gave me the relief I wanted. I can see now that God used the pain to gain my attention and to show me what was in my heart. Is that the same for you? Has God allowed you to suffer to chip away at your lack of submission? Then thank God He is at work in your life, and trust Him to provide you the grace to overcome.