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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Suffering Well In America

In my last post, I raised the issue of “suffering well” in America.

Suffering, not prosperity, is the mark of a vibrant and healthy Christian life. It's the tool God uses to refine us, teach us, soften us towards others and to help us understand our complete dependence upon Him.

C.S. Lewis said this: "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains."

But let’s face it. America can be a hard place to suffer. This is the land of opportunity and the wealthiest country in the world. We live in a place of affluence, comfort and excess. Even the poorest Americans are wealthy by the world's standards. Don't believe me? Check out this global wealth calculator. 

What in the world does it even look like to suffer in America?

Before I go on, let me say that I know there are people in America who do suffer. Even in my own little cirlce of family and friends, there are people dealing with loss, tragedy, sickness, financial insecurity and more, even at this very moment. There is suffering here.

For those of us who encounter such trials, there is much opportunity to use them for the glory of Christ. There is perhaps no greater testimony to the power of the Gospel than to suffer with grace, hope and the "peace that surpasses all understanding."

But what about the rest of us? Those of us who are generally healthy, gainfully employed and who are not dealing with significant loss or other such trials. We're rich Americans. How could we possibly suffer for the cause of Christ?

I think I can sum it up in four little words…

Choose to LIVE SIMPLY.

That’s it. Make intentional choices that cause you make less of yourself and make more of Christ. Instead of striving to keep up with the Joneses, live quietly, simply and sacrificially.

For some that might mean choosing to live in a modest home, far below your means. For others it could mean driving an inexpensive car or owning no car at all. It could mean no jewelry. It could mean second-hand clothing. It could mean all of the above or something else altogether.

The application may look different for all of us but the principle remains the same. For a more eloquent explanation of this idea, check out what the Piper has to say:


Lauren said...

Thank you for posting this Shelly. It is extremely encouraging to me in a time where I feel that the Lord has called me to suffer in a specific area... and to suffer well. I needed to be reminded that it is an honor to share in Christ's sufferings and it is a privilege to suffer for the glory of God. I love everything about this post! Oh - and John Piper is just icing on the cake! ;)

Colleen said...

Dude! The entire "Secret Church" on Friday night was about suffering. So.good. If you have six hours and are ready to drink from a fire hydrant, I would highly recommend listening to it. Fo reals.
Love you!

Christy said...

Love this! It truly is an honor to live below our means even though it seems so weird in this American culture. Has its perks too - less to clean, keep track of, etc! Every time I clean out clutter I am reminded of that. B and I were just talking last night about how it's so easy to become slaves to our stuff.

Behn and Meg said...

I've been waiting for this post since you alluded to it in the last one. Thank you! I believe we have been suffering (financially) lately, but I can't say we've done it with grace, contentment, or peace- more like worry, doubt, and a tight grip on our idols. That needs to change. This is the blessed road God is leading us down right now and it's the best one for us, whether we know it or not. He leadeth me, o blessed thought!

Following Forward said...

AMEN. I love how simply this post points out the truth: we see and be more of Christ when we live simply. Thanks for the reminder, friend!

Courtney said...

So good Shelly. I've started the on the path towards living a simpler less-cluttered life and it is so freeing. Freeing me up to focus on what's most important, bringing glory to our God. Thanks for sharing!