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Friday, April 6, 2012

Sharing in His Sufferings

Our family was pounded last week with the stomach bug. And in a family with five young children, the stomach bug is never good news. But it’s especially rotten news when it arrives several days before vacation.

Dan and I sat with the kids last week, night after night, and prayed for healing. We prayed for the “yucky germs” to leave our home and that the Lord would restore us all to perfect health… because you know, we had a vacation planned.

And the Lord did provide the health we needed to make the trip. He also provided some awesome Chattanooga travel tips through Marcie H, a precious blog reader.

We made it through every day of the trip without even a hint of the stomach bug. It was a complete miracle and a precious couple of days together. Aaaaaaaand then Davis threw up in the car on the way home.

I guess next time I should pray more specifically that the Lord would provide health for our vacation… and for the entire drive home.

I thought about hitting the “publish” button and ending this post right here. A sweet family vacation. A couple cute pictures. A little puke on the way home. And {mostly} all is well with the Owens Family.

But I’d be doing y’all a terrible disservice -- because that’s not the end of my story. And if you know me well, you know those aren’t the types of blog posts I write anyways.

Here’s the truth that’s burdening me: I spent the last week fervently praying for and encouraging my children to pray for… a vacation. And frankly, that’s pretty lame.

Yes, we’re called to bring our prayers and petitions before the Lord. It’s true that He numbers even the hairs on our heads and cares deeply about the details in our lives. And a family vacation seems innocent and wholesome enough for a prayer topic.

But let’s get some perspective.

I know many mommas who live in the third world. And in third world countries, women don’t pray for their children to get well so they can go on vacation. Those women pray for their children to get well so they can live.

The rich pray for things like vacations, parking spots, faster internet access and enough money to make private school tuition. While the poor pray for things like food, water and basic life necessities.

On Tuesday (whilst on my much-prayed-for vacation) I read this quote from Jen Hatmaker: “The poor world is begging for mercy like Bartimaus, while the rich world is asking for more favor like James and John.”

And then it hit me right between the eyes. That’s me. That’s what I’m doing. I’m constantly asking God for more favor, more blessing, more good stuff in my already way over-blessed life.  With every breath of most of my prayers on most days, I’m begging the Lord for ease. For comfort. For fun. For a complete lack of suffering in any capacity.

Paul Billheimer says this: “It is not unusual that the greatest saints, those who have made the greatest contribution to the kingdom on earth, are those who have suffered the most… we never learn anything new about God except by suffering.”

But how on Earth does one suffer in an affluent culture such as America? Sure, there are those of us who suffer due to a loss, tragedy or other situation. But what about the rest of us? Those of us just shuffling through life, comfortable as pie, with no real clue what the word suffering really even means?

My next post will deal with that topic specifically: how to suffer well in America. But for now, I'll get on my knees and pray this prayer for me, for you and or for anyone who identifies with the words I've written here.

Lord, this Easter may we not desire what’s easy. May we not pray for what’s selfish. May we desire, above all, to share in your sufferings and to truly know you and the power of your resurrection. And through our sufferings and refinement may You make us into your likeness and use us for your glory.

Happy Easter, dear friends. Rejoice for He is Risen!


Momto3 said...

Thank you for this post. He is Risen, indeed!

Naomi said...

Yes Shelly please pray that prayer for me too. I find myself doing the same thing these days!

Oh and your children are so very cute btw!!

Colleen said...

Dang. Just when I was wanting to sulk and pout (no joke! this very minute!), I had to go and read your post. And you're right...I'm so weaksauce. Thanks for the perspective, friend.
Happy Easter!
Love you,

Anonymous said...

praise God for this holy perspective... we are in need of it! blessings for a beautiful Easter for you all. xo Anna

mama faith said...

Really looking forward to that next post. Hope Chattanooga was good to ya'll! I live right down the road from there!

Tracy said...

I have been on the pity party ride for awhile. Thanks for letting the Holy Spirit speak through you!!