They say "be careful what you pray for", presumably because you might actually get it. Philippians 3:10 comes to mind as a verse that I have sometimes felt drawn to in prayer: "I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death..." (NIV).
It's a lovely Easter season prayer. One that brings together Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection. Some versions use "fellowship of His sufferings" which I prefer, imagining myself on some Tolkienesque quest to experience the suffering of Christ in the world, dying to self and perfecting His image in my life as I trudge along in search of all that is good. It seems noble, and pure and like a pilgrimage, and at heart aren't all our lives like holy journeys if we reverence them correctly?
Into this somewhat romanticised notion of life I have tried to fit chronic illness and heartbreak, amid seasons of spiritual dryness, similar to variations of the dark night of the soul that anyone truly searching for God experiences. Sometimes He has been so real, at times He has seemed very far away. But always, I have felt drawn back to Him, no matter what. I can't explain why that is, other than to simply say God made me that way. I wish everyone was the same, but apparently it isn't so.
Many are content to go through life in the dark, thinking that's all there is and all they want. The dark comforts them, and they feed off it. Still, there are many who feel drawn to the light no matter what happens, and the moment they stray, they know it for what it is. Sin. A separation from God.
The world doesn't understand this sort of person. They're not just unusual, they're practically abnormal because the norm, really, is to love the things of the flesh, the ways of the world, and of pride and ego, and to pursue them wholeheartedly, and anybody who doesn't isn't in sync with the world. They don't really belong here, and in their hearts they know it. Their hearts tell them they belong elsewhere, and theirs is an exile of sorts as long as they journey through life.
That's the fellowship of the suffering of Christ. The cost of wanting to be like Him, and yet journeying through a world that doesn't welcome you. It's loneliness, abandonment, betrayal and heartbreak. The ultimate sacrifice for the faith would be a martyr's death. And yet one doesn't need to go so far to be a part of the fellowship of Christ's sufferings.
This Easter, as I gaze upon Christ on the cross I am grateful for every painful suffering I have endured in my pilgrimage through life. These sufferings have brought me closer to my Lord, and that is good enough for me. The world will never understand what it cannot comprehend, but the soul that loves God knows.
This Easter I want to know the power of His resurrection also. To rise from the ashes, to come alive once more, to live more fully and joyfully. Every Easter brings these things to mind. This Easter will be special. I can feel it in my soul.
Thanks for reading,
1 week ago