Perhaps from time to time I have missed the point of suffering for Him, because I haven’t suffered—not really.
When I lost my wife, there was a time when I found it difficult to get out of bed—difficult to move forward. I couldn’t imagine smiling or laughing again—it seemed disrespectful to her somehow.
But she wanted me to move on—she expected it and trusted me to. In fact, she was upset with me in those last days when I seemed to be struggling with moving on.
In Gwen’s mind, she was going to a better place, and God was keeping me here for a purpose. That is not to trivialize the end of her life—not at all. We loved each other and deeply desired to be together. It broke our hearts to know we were about to be torn apart.
Gwen understood the sorrow of separation—she felt it too. But she had a firm grasp on eternal issues—she was going, and I would be there soon.
But suffering is different, in my opinion. Suffering is what people do when they work all day without the hope of having enough to eat, and going to bed hungry day after day. Suffering is watching a loved one head toward eternity without hope, without Jesus. Suffering is sitting in a jail cell because you wouldn’t deny that you serve the risen Savior.
Living in fear is common for many. We have walked the streets of oppression more than once. But I don’t live there day after day, week after week, year after year.
So for me, watching my bride go to an eternal paradise ahead of me doesn’t qualify. Having the ability to go on and tell others about Christ does not qualify. Living in luxury and temporarily going to parts of the world where even the air is infested with disease does not qualify.
Perhaps one day the Lord will count me worthy of suffering for Him. I won’t seek it, because that would be a selfish, self-centered act. Instead, I will do my best to go where He leads me, and try my best not to get in the way of what He is doing.
For those who are truly suffering, I pray that God will help you endure what He has called you to do. You have my prayers, and my deep respect.