Suffering, Chipotle, and other matters

Hey friends,
quite a few days we’ve just had on the ol Tenth ave front.
Nashville, Texas, Pennsylvania. All in 36 hours.
We had some festival playing, delayed flights,
crazy sound checks, and we even had one bona-fide
drive through the night.
You never know what you’re gonna get on the road.
That is for sure.

But the thing that really made my weekend, wasn’t big crowds or
sleepless nights, (imagine that)
it was listening to our friend Marc give a message on suffering
Sunday morning to his Dallas, Pennsylvania congregation.
Now, I was still severely sleep-deprived at the time, so maybe
that’s why it resonated with me so acutely, but his message
was so well-timed and well delivered that it struck me perfectly in the chest,
shaking me free from my drooping eye-lids and slouching shoulders.
Marc’s sermon centered on Paul and all that he went through for the gospel’s sake.
We’re talking lashes, beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, snake bites, prison time,
zero sleep time, going hungry, going thirsty, going crazy, all for
the chance to preach the gospel. (see 2 Cor 11)
The beautiful precious gospel, that “He who knew no sin,
became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God.” (2Cor5.21)

Let me just say that I needed to hear it.
Just 24 hours before hand, I was throwing a tantrum because
we didn’t get to stop at Chipotle! I mean, how sad is that?
When our flight was delayed I only moaned and complained
and acted like the world was ending.
Not exactly what I would call, a Christ-exalting demeanor.
Where’s my brain?
Do I see suffering like Paul did?
As a chance to know Christ more intimately,
or do I only look at it as a chance to gain people’s sympathy?
Do you know that Paul saw it as a gift?
He actually saw it as something to rejoice over!
Romans 8 says, “for your sake we are being killed all the day long.”

Say what Paul?
For God’s name sake we are being killed?
What the world?
How does that work?
Wouldn’t God be better glorified if He saved us from being killed?
Surely God doesn’t want us to suffer….does He?

Well, I think Paul would say, that if we don’t suffer,
if all we have is comfort and ease and prosperity, then
the world will not see anything supernatural in our lives at all.
If our lives were perfect, than how would anyone know
we’re really worshipping the giver and not just the gifts?
In fact, I think it is only when we are killed,
when we are bruised, beat, and bleeding,
that people can really begin to see Christ in us.
If we praise God when all is well, that is one thing,
but if we say that God is good when all has gone wrong,
well, that’s something different entirely.

In any case,
we had a long long weekend, and
things didn’t go exactly as planned.
To put it mildly.
I didn’t get as much sleep as I wanted,
I didn’t get the food that I was craving,
I didn’t really get the sympathy that I was seeking either,
but what I did get was a chance to know Christ a little bit better.
Granted, my suffering is laughable to say the least when compared
to the cross, but the point remains.
The last few days I was convicted anew that giving thanks to God
in the midst of my pain unleashes the beauty of God for all to see.
Perhaps better than anything else in all the world.
May God give us all eyes to see.

“Be joyful always. Give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for your life in Christ Jesus.” (I Thess 5:16-18)