Recently someone recommended a book to our (on-line) church small group. The book describes Jesus as a beautiful outlaw and for the most part I really enjoyed it.
By the time I hit the last chapter, I was expecting a hum drum summary, not something new, but the author took me by surprise, introducing some thoughts about suffering, a topic he had not touched on in earlier pages. I want to share some of his thoughts with you.
Suffering will try to separate you from Jesus. You must not let it. The worst part of suffering is the damage it can do to your view of God, your relationship with him. Feelings of abandonment creep in: Why did he let this happen? Anger. A loss of hope. Mistrust. Forsakenness. At the very time you need him most, you will feel most compelled to pull away from Jesus, or feel that he has pulled away from you.
Your suffering is neither pointless nor isolated. Somehow, Jesus’ sufferings overflow into our lives; somehow ours are linked to his… When his suffering overflows into our lives, God’s promise is that his comfort will overflow to us as well. We can cry out for the comfort of God. Whatever your circumstances may be, he will heal your wounded heart; he will comfort. Cling to him.
Do whatever it takes to help you fix your gaze… on him… find those things that help you remember Jesus, turn your heart toward him through the day… I have a collection of odd items on my desk – several rocks, a piece of driftwood, a few hawk feathers, a seashell, an arrowhead. They are reminders, icons of God’s coming to me. Coming for me. Coming through for me. I need all the help I can get. I have notes, Scriptures, words from Jesus taped around my office, even on my bathroom mirror. Now I write them on my hand. Whatever it takes.
From pages 213-216 of Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldridge