Last night was hard. And if I’m honest with myself, I’m not sure I’m over it yet either.
Last night my college group was going through Hebrews 12:1-11, after talking primarily about verses one and two the week before. Let me tell you, there is some seriously encouraging stuff in those two verses.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
I mean, if sitting at the throne of God isn’t motive enough, then I’m not really sure what is. And just as Jesus endured the cross, we’re told to endure in our own lives.
But that’s when things take a turn.
In verse 4, Paul pulls this one out:
“In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”
I’m still alive and kicking, so this applies to me (and you, if you’re reading it). Paul goes on to talk about God treating us as his sons, and doesn’t a father discipline his sons? This is where my emotions start to bubble up.
Ever since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, I’ve been told that God has a plan. And to be honest, I’ve never doubted it. Sure there have been times when I’ve been so upset and fed up that I’ve said “God, I don’t care what plans you have for me, just make me better and I forfeit whatever awesome stuff you have planned” (bargaining with God, not exactly how it works). But besides those low points, I’ve always been accepting of the fact that me being sick is going to be used for His glory. Even now, I don’t doubt it. In the short time I’ve been sick, I can even see places where it’s been used.
Later in verse 10, it says that God “disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” Woah. Just let that one sink in. This isn’t just some thing to learn our lesson, but to share in God’s holiness. Again, if that’s not a good motivation to get through some things, then I really don’t know what is.
And this is all good. I truly believe God has a plan for me.
But last night I started to realize that there was a big part of me being sick that had always been a consequence, but I had never realized it until I had really thought about what sacrifices having Crohn’s meant. And that’s when I asked a very hard question.
What if whatever hardship you’re going through seems to be stopping you from doing things for His kingdom? Why would God do that?
And there doesn’t seem to be an answer for that. Ya you can point to the fact that God has different ideas of what we should be doing, or that it’s quality over quantity, or that maybe it’s just for this season, but there was one part that stood out besides all of this. And that was the simple fact that so many times I have to say no.
See, I can’t honestly say that there’s any specific place that I have a heart to go save. I’m not one of those people that have always wanted to go save the children in some third world country. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I don’t care about them, but there’s not a specific place that I want to travel to. But when the opportunity comes up to go somewhere, help someone, or do something, almost every time I have to say no.
And now that’s killing me.
I never put the two together; that God has a purpose for me having Crohn’s, and not being able to do things because of having Crohn’s. And I’m going to be honest here, it’s hard to see how that’s going to help God’s kingdom grow when I have to say no to things. No to going to the Philippines, no to going on missions trips, no to even going downtown to talk and spend time with the homeless.
At the end of it all, I have to trust God. Trust in the fact that I’m going to share in his holiness. Trust in the fact that somehow, in some way I’m helping further his kingdom. And even though it’s hard, because laying down a weight and running doesn’t work when that weight’s glued to you, I realize that I’m running my own race. And I’m bound to meet someone, somewhere along the way that can use my help. And that has to be sufficient for me, because it is for God.