Thursday, November 10, 2011

Discernment in Suffering - Knowing the Mind and Heart of God

More about suffering...  To catch up, read this and this.

Discernment is such a big word, isn't it?  I think it means something about having knowledge or insight into a particular thing...knowing the WHY behind something or having a "behind the scenes" sort of look, maybe...

In the past, when I was suffering, or when I saw others suffer, I thought, "Well, I don't get it, there's nothing I can do about it, so whatever.  I'll just get through it." if to shrug my shoulders, let out a huge and overly dramatic sigh, grit my teeth and wince until the storm of suffering had passed.

Now, after being exposed to some teaching, reading some more scripture, and praying through some stuff, I'm second-guessing my usual "whatever!" response, and have been asking for more discernment in the midst of suffering.  Here are a handful of things that have caused me to rehash my views...

  •  Bill Johnson - I recently listened to a sermon called "The Perfect Storm" by Bill Johnson.  He talks about two different storms in the Bible.  Here is the Liza-Spark-Notes version.
    • Storm 1 - Jonah's storm (Read Jonah 1)
      • WHO sent the storm?  God.
      • WHY the storm?  Jonah had been disobedient and had tried to run away from the Lord.
      • SOLUTION to the storm?  Jonah threw himself overboard, repenting and surrendering himself to the will of God.
    • Storm 2 - Storm in the Gospels that Jesus eventually calms. (Read Matthew 8, Mark 4, Luke 8)
      • WHO sent the storm?  Bill Johnson says that Satan sent the storm.  
      • WHY the storm?  Bill Johnson says that Satan knew Jesus was headed towards the demon-possessed man (Legion) across the lake and wanted to deter Him.
      • SOLUTION to the storm?  Jesus calmed it.  He knew the storm was from the Enemy.  Jesus can trump Satan every.single.time.  All He had to say was, "Be still."

  • Watchman Nee - In his book Spiritual Knowledge,  Watchman Nee has some interesting things to say about dealing with God and being dealt with by Him.
"Many Christians carelessly let difficulties or problems pass by without receiving dealings from God.  They do not know why He sends them these difficulties.  These people may read the Bible daily and seem to posses some knowledge and light, yet they are ignorant of the mind of God.  Their knowledge is clearly insufficient.  For this cause, beloved, we must deal with God and receive dealings from God; and then we shall truly know Him."
This makes me think that maybe I need to wrestle with the Lord a little more in the midst of suffering, and ask, "God, WHY?"  What is Your heart in this?  Is this from You?  The enemy?  Give me discernment to know what's going on!"  
  • John Piper - In John's sermons on Job, (listen/read them here) he mentions something about how, like Job, we are are all too apt to say "What in the world is going on??" in the midst of suffering.  
"All Job's prosperity is gone in one afternoon. You might ask, "What in the world is going on here?"  To see what is going on we have to look outside the world. This world alone never answers the great questions of life. The answer is found in heaven. So the writer gives us a glimpse into heaven to understand better what is happening on earth."
So, in asking God to give me discernment into my suffering, I may have to be looking beyond the worldly circumstances I find myself in.  True? 
Well, friends, I am no expert.  But, it certainly does not hurt to be a little more stubborn when it comes to asking the Lord some of these things.  As far as I can tell, this sort of wrestling and "dealing" with the Lord can only bring about good things, in fostering a deeper relationship and understanding of His heart for us.

Instead of a passive, shrug-the-shoulders "Whatever!  Crap happens!" approach to suffering, I want to know the mind of Christ.  I want to know the heart of Christ.  How is He working?  What is He thinking?  What is His heart for me?

My friend Laura Hackett says it well in her song "The Battle is Raging"...  I don't fight as one who beats the air!  Give me eyes to see and ears to hear! (I Cor. 9)  Good tunes...

PS - One other thought...  In my asking, "Why?" to God, I also ask Him to help me receive His answer well.  What if I don't like His answer?  What if His answer is tough to swallow?  Oh, how I need His grace.

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