I won’t lie. I fear for Clay’s safety when he travels to far away, rural places for missions work. It’s not easy to pull away from a final embrace before he gets on a plane headed halfway around the world. It’s not easy to wonder what it will be like where he’s going. It’s not easy to come to terms with the reality that there is no guarantee he will return (call me dramatic, but did you see that tiny plane?!)
It all feels quite uncertain.
While at times it may feel like I am “suffering,” I’m not. There is nothing I can lose here on this earth… No suffering that can be had. According to Bonhoeffer, “Suffering means being cut off from God. Therefore those who live in communion with him cannot really suffer” (the Cost of Discipleship). No matter what I endure here on this earth, no matter what I gain here, I count it all as loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Him (Phil. 3:8).
I hold fast to the truth that even in my “suffering,” I am not really suffering. For I am not separated from Christ. No one can take Him away from me. No one can take away the hope and the peace I have in Him, through Him, and because of Him.
This holding fast to that truth allows me to loosen my grip to offer Clay back to God as an offering. And that’s when God is able to work in big ways in both of our lives for His Kingdom purposes.
John 16:22 tells us there is “joy no one shall take from you.”
Paul tells us in James 1:2 that we can consider it pure joy when we face trails. Pure. Joy. (that’s convicting!)
And about that uncertainty? Well, Henri Nouwen has an idea I like to call “uncertain certainty” in regards to a life of following Christ. It is the most uncertain thing not knowing where He will tell you to go, what He will call you to do, who He will ask you to love. And yet, it is the most certain path we can walk. For following Jesus is the most assured thing we can do.
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine…”
When I hold tight to this hope that I have in Jesus, I am freed up to hold others with open hands, to come in and out of my life as God sees fit, all for the purpose of bringing glory to His name. When I follow closely the path on which He leads, though it be uncertain, I am filled with peace that surpasses all understanding as I trust with confidence that it’s the most certain, assured, blessed path I could travel.
James 1 goes on to say in verse 4, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
We love others, even our spouses – nay, especially our spouses – with an eternal hope and perspective, knowing that no matter what we endure for the Kingdom far outweighs our “suffering.” We faithfully lift them up in prayer. We entrust them to Jesus with the most uncertain certainty.
“Prayer, therefore, is a great adventure because the God with whom we enter into a new relationship is greater than we are and defies all our calculations and predictions. The movement from illusion to prayer is hard to make since it leads us from false uncertainties to true uncertainties, from an easy support system to a risky surrender, and from the many “safe” gods to the God whose love has no limits.” – Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out