I used to be (and still am at times) too full of myself, and as a result, there was never enough room for God in my life. Oh, I loved Jesus, but on my own terms. I had accepted Him as my Saviour, but not as my Lord.
Then the strangest thing happened to me. I stopped being able to sleep through the night. Tossing and turning, legs jumping right and left (My poor wife!), waking up at night filled with anxiety at the multitude of tasks at hand, and staying awake for hours at end, it wasn’t long before I reached the end of my rope. My brain was busily taking wild goose chases, and I could do nothing to turn it off.
“Lord heal me!” became my fervent prayer. But healing did not happen.
You may wonder why I wasn’t healed right on the spot. I sure did! But I learned some powerful lessons through this experience, lessons that I will share with you now.
As a result of getting almost no sleep, I was constantly tired. In fact, I reached the point where I could barely function. That’s when I discovered God’s grace shining through my dire circumstances. When my prayer changed from, “Lord, let me sleep!” to “Lord, give me the strength I need for this day!” I discovered that He would do just that! Amazingly, I was more patient than ever before, and I even did my job more efficiently. Though I had nothing to do with it, I began experiencing a lot more success at the workplace!
In human terms this didn’t make sense, but it did to me. I discovered when I depend on God 100% of the time, I could face any mountain, no matter how high!
During a Kingdom Bound festival, I accepted Jesus as my Master in all things of my life and since then I have never been the same. My perspective of life has changed. Utter inner peace fills my soul, and joy beams constantly from my heart. I have someone I can rely on at all times, One who never gets it wrong!
Like John the Baptist, I discovered: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 NKJV) This is not a wish, it is a necessity for helping me reach my full potential in the Kingdom of God!
I discovered that I truly had nothing to worry about. Someone else would take care of my worries, and that someone was Jesus. I could live worry-free! Hallelujah! “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30 NIV)
I eventually underwent medical testing for my insomnia, and it was discovered that I am an avid dancer in my sleep (Strange! I never even took any dancing lessons!). I woke up more than thirty times every hour of the night, and I never reached the necessary “deep sleep”. I was also diagnosed with “Sleep Apnea”.
I still am blessed with this condition, and yes, I call it a blessing and not a curse. It is a blessing because it keeps me on my toes as a constant reminder to always let Jesus shine in my life, no matter what the circumstances. I have discovered the huge blessings that come from letting Jesus be my Lord and Savior on a daily basis. I have discovered that I can enjoy a truly restful night if I put my worry list aside and let Jesus be in charge of my life.
God can indeed use suffering (although He is not the One causing it!) to draw us closer to Him and prepare us for eternity: “For God sometimes uses sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek eternal life. We should never regret his sending it.” (2 Cor 7:10 TLB). He also uses sorrow in our lives to help those around us discover that they also need a Saviour!
Quite frankly, our current suffering is nothing compared to the blessings He has in store for us! If we keep our eyes of faith wide open, we will be filled with joy and we will praise His name!
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold-though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (1 Peter 1:6-7 NLT)
You know, I used to like being in the lime light, but now I much more prefer to boast in my weaknesses, because as a result of my weaknesses Jesus can truly start shining in my life! “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Cor 12:9 NIV); and “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:10 NIV)
There is grace in suffering that leads us straight to God’s throne!
Are you going through suffering?
Praise God and ask Him to help you open your eyes to discover His healing grace. There is truly beauty in ashes!
(To view the entire “When Suffering Seems Unbearable” devotional series, please click here.)