As all these thoughts were running through my mind, our class began to take prayer requests. It struck me, the openness with which they shared their supplications. It honestly shocked me, their very transparent brokenness, and the depths of their pain. I had not before quite comprehended the depth of struggles that these dear brothers and sisters in Christ had seen and are still seeing in their lives. You see, the people in this class are consistently filled with joy. I mean real "Jesus through us" joy. The kind that makes you think that they not only have it all together, but that they must not be going through the horrendous pain and trials that I have. My limited reasoning suggesting that they couldn't be. How in the world would they be able to be such a steady witness of Christ, while hurting like I am...and like I have. I have often observed that there is something in their demeanor that draws you in. They literally exude the Love of Christ. So, I figured they must have a pretty good deal. They have been through their hard trials years ago and have come through it stronger and better. What I did not consider was that they were still in the midst of various trials.
Not only had they indeed gone through the current type of trials I am experiencing; but their current trials are harder, deeper, and consequently, their brokenness as well. God said to me in the stillness of my heart, "You and Brent are in this class to learn, from the example of their lives, these people are My over comers, My witnesses, and My good and faithful servants."
I have been teaching Philippians on Wednesday nights, and our class has stood in amazement at the rejoicing of Paul in the most dire of circumstances. I have been personally challenged and commanded to rejoice in all things. I do this via Christ through me, in my mind, but not yet in a present tense sort of way that the Lord commands. I frequently allow my feelings too much weight, too much influence, and lay aside the truths I live to teach, to my great shame; however, these precious "elder" believers stand in daily witness to the truths of "to Live is Christ" and "I press on." A few months ago, I shared that the Lord was teaching me to look for a better country as Hebrews says, to not grieve the lack of leisure or easiness found here because this is not my home. These faithful saints before me not only know this truth, they live it. Which means, joy upon joy, I can too. Christ is building in Brent and me more of Him, less of us. A life meant to be sacrificed and not hoarded, not for us, but for others, but mostly for our Lord. I am but a bond-servant and my "happiness" is truly never found in the trials being gone, but in my life being gone--the daily dying to self, dying to the desire for an easier deal, living unto Christ. For he who loses his life shall find it.
So, as The Lord taught me all of this and spoke to me, I wanted to stand and proclaim, "Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake." 2 Cor. 12:10 These difficulties and trials are making me weak so that I can be stronger in His strength. So, I praise God for my trials, and I praise God for His servants that have taught me so much!!!