charisma-december-2016_cvr“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – C. S. Lewis

This December, Charisma Magazine published an article detailing the journey that my family has walked through over the last five years. Dr. Steve Green, my close friend, son’s pastor and former professor at Oral Roberts University, was so moved by Jordan’s life and perseverance through suffering that he believed sharing our family story would help others struggling through similar circumstances. This story is now going global with the end goal to help others endure and persevere through trials.

Though Lynette and I have had our rigorous share of sufferings, we are not chronic sufferers, complainers, or pity-party people; rather, we are God’s son and daughter who live victorious lives of faith and blessing. So where do faith and suffering intersect?

Are they essentially two unconnected realities, as some unbalanced theology teaches, where joyous faith is for the righteous only and suffering for the weaker Christians? Or that suffering is the highest calling and joy-filled faith is superficial or phony?

Is there a third way? Is it possible to possess great and joy-filled faith yet be going through hardship at the same time? I believe it is: practically and scripturally.

Here are some of my life scriptures. These words have been food and comfort to my heart when facing epic trials, pain and losses.

Psalm 34:19 – Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all.

John 16:33 – These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.

Psalm 23 – The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 84:5-7 – How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, In whose heart are the highways to Zion! Passing through the valley of weeping they make it a spring; The early rain also covers it with blessings. They go from strength to strength, Every one of them appears before God in Zion.

Each of these verses recognize the righteous will be afflicted, yet the Lord will come through. It may not look like what we wish it would, but He does come through.

Another example comes from one of Paul’s letters. Paul never bifurcated victorious faith and suffering with Christ. The two flow together in such a way that your faith will be tempered in humility and your sufferings will be graced by faith.

Paul said, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10). He also said, “rejoice in the Lord always,” which may sound fitting until you realize it was penned from a prison cell.

Jesus shares all of our sufferings and we share some of His. During His life on earth, He showed emotion over human suffering. We don’t need to be stoic about physical pain or suffering. It’s okay to lament and cry out. This is not a sign of weakness.

Likewise, we do not give away or lose our faith when suffering strikes; instead, we hold on to the promises yet unseen just as the heroes of faith did:

“And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:39-40).

It’s important to note that our rich faith is rooted in God and Christ, not in positive outcomes and answered prayers. Faith in God continues on even when God does not answer the way we requested. Sometimes His plan is mysterious or can’t be comprehended with our limited faculties.

Jennifer Leclair, the journalist of the article, did a wonderful job capturing a very “heavy” subject. One we’ve not shared in writing only by interview. She wept with us as we shared. Although not every detail is perfect, she totally captured our hearts. The full article can be found at Charisma Magazine:

We hope this article helps others stay close to God and strong in the fight of faith. That’s all that matters to us. This is not a story of accomplishment or achievement. It’s a story of God in His grace in the life of a family, a story similar to countless others. In this season, He opened this door for us to share and show that faith and suffering are not two opposing worlds.

On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name. (Matt Redman)