How do we face suffering? I doubt anyone actually takes pleasure in it, but what is our true attitude towards pain?
What would be our reaction if an enemy of state knocked at our door? Would we chase him away? Would we denounce him? Or would we help him? But this final choice could potentially put us in a lot of trouble, resulting in a lot of unnecessary suffering. What would we really do?
Marie Catherine Fontaine, with her husband Jacques Harel, were peaceful farmers at Beaumoncel Manor in Camembert, France. One day, during the French Revolution, Abbot Bonvoust knocked at their door requesting shelter. He was wanted by the new regime. His life was at stake, and now his problems had reached these peaceful peasants.
Both husband and wife were undeterred. The right thing to do was to offer the abbot a haven, and so they kept him at their farm.
During that time, the abbot, who was from Brie, offered some wise advice about maturing cheeses. This led to the invention of Camembert cheese, which would become one of the most famous cheeses in the world.
Had Marie Catherine refused the abbot shelter, she would have never invented Camembert cheese, a cheese that would become so famous, that during World War I, the French military authorities insisted on including it in their soldiers’ rations!
Suffering may not be our cup of tea, but it can lead to tremendous blessing!
Jesus also suffered the impossible. Death on a cross was the goriest death possible, a death by slow asphyxiation. Still, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:7-9, NIV2)
The problem with most of us is that we have a problem with suffering. Such situations cause many of us to swear or to doubt God. Still others feel forlorn, sure that God has abandoned them! The problem is, we’ve all missed the boat!
How so? Let’s remember that suffering was never in God’s perfect plan from the beginning, and it has been banned from anyone bathing in God’s presence for eternity (see Rev. 21:4). The day we began to listen to the evil one however, the one called “liar” in God’s Holy Book (see John 8:44), suffering came upon us. Our arch-enemy is the source of the suffering, not God! He is the real cause, the real enemy! It is his goal to distance us completely from God’s eternal love, and to do so, he insinuates throughout our trials that God can’t be trusted! It’s when we fall into his deadly traps that we become alienated from the One who loves us eternally!
Yet even though we chose a path at Eden that God would never have chosen for us, we are not left to the devices of the devil in our moments of suffering! The thing we must always remember is this: It is especially in the midst of our pain that we can most experience God’s grace! Suffering is an opportunity for us to experience God fully, to discover that His will is so much better than our own. Unlike the rest of us who tend to hurt each other in every way possible, especially when we are under attack, God always has our best interest at heart! It’s amidst our pain that we learn true obedience! It’s when suffering knocks on our door that we have the opportunity to show who we truly serve, either ourselves (to the evil one’s delight) or God. Who is in control after all?
Notice that Jesus’ prayers were heard because of His reverent submission. Notice also that Jesus learned perfect obedience from what he suffered. And this led to something much better than Camembert cheese: He became the source of eternal salvation!
Maybe it is time that we consider opening the door, even if we know that suffering awaits us on the other side. May we always make the right choice, no matter our circumstances. For we never know when our suffering may lead to the invention of something as profitable and well-known as Camembert cheese!
(To access the entire “When Suffering Knocks on our Door” devotional series, please click here.)
(To access the entire “Only in Jesus” devotional series, please click here.)
(To access the entire “Hell’s Tactics” devotional series, please click here.)