By Natalie, Editress of Visionary Womanhood
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:7)
I always thought this verse was referring to our duty to bear all the nasty things that other Wemmicks do to us. We were to bear with them in love. Bear up, like good little soldiers, under the weight of their sin against us. Believe the best of our neighbor and his motives. Hope they will either change or we’ll grow in character. Hope for the day it’s all over. Endure until that day comes. You know. That kind of thing.
Then I read Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits, and discovered there are more layers to this passage of Scripture than I had ever imagined. Apparently, Paul was finished discussing our duty of love toward our neighbor and was now turning to our duty when it comes to being associated with Jesus Christ, or Truth.
It is our duty to be ready and willing to suffer for following Christ. There are many who make a show of following Christ, but if suffering comes along as a result, they fall away. “No fun and not fair. Christ was supposed to gimme happiness, not suffering.”
A truly gracious and charitable spirit will move into that suffering with a meek attitude of surrender.
And this is love.
Love rejoices in the truth – and love bears up under the resultant suffering that comes of it.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
What Are You Made Of?
Our little journey on earth is for one purpose only, and it isn’t so we can be healthy and happy little Wemmicks. It’s so we can glorify our Creator. The Bible says that He disciplines those He LOVES. That’s right. If you are being disciplined – guess what? God’s got His eyes on YOU! God has affection for YOU! He’s targeting YOU not because He wants to see you squirm, but because He wants to make you REAL.
Have you ever met a REAL person? Aren’t they the most comfortable, kind, gracious, wise beings that walk on the face of this earth? They are few and far between. And when you meet one, you never forget. They ooze love. They don’t even seem to be aware of themselves. I guarantee they didn’t get that way on their own. And they didn’t get that way because life was peachy. Just ask.
Ask them what God has brought them through. They have been tried in the furnace over and over, and because they’ve surrendered to that furnace as the clay surrenders to the potter’s hand, they have come out as gold.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8)
Christ is everything to them. He is the beautiful treasure. Wemmick opinions don’t matter. They love Wemmicks, but God is paramount in their hearts.
…and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22)
Those who hate Christ – will hate those who love Christ. Expect that. But don’t fear Wemmicks. Fear God.
Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. (Isaiah 8:12-13)
When God allows us to go through the furnace of affliction, He is testing us to see what we are made of. He is burning off the lesser metals. The gold will remain when the fires die down.
Are you willing to suffer for Him? Are you able to recognize the furnace for what it is? Lovingly prepared for you by His merciful Hands? Can you trust Him to know what He is doing?
We do not have many role models of noble character in our culture today. We do not see many Wemmicks demonstrating how to suffer well. One of the ways I’ve been able to “watch” a person suffer well is through books. Although there are many books I could recommend on this subject, the ones that come to mind first are books that have been written by Elizabeth Prentiss who lived in the 1800′s.
Elizabeth suffered greatly in her life – and loved the Lord with a zeal unmatched by most. When it came time for her to die, she was in raptures at the thought of going to be with Christ at long last. She recovered slightly and felt keen disappointment. Fortunately for her, her recovery was brief, and she finally went to be with the Lover of her soul.
I have learned more from the characters in her books than I have from almost anything else. Every book I have of hers is underlined and dog-eared. I have quotes written in journals from years past. I have tried to get my hands on everything she has written – they are treasures. Here are my favorites:
You can get The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss free HERE. It is a thick book, but full of inspiration and hope in your walk with Christ. Her life is fascinating, and her letters are rich in wisdom even as she goes through deep sorrows.
If you want to read a summary of her life, Wikipedia has an article HERE.