Submission in the Secret Place
There is a place in our lives that few people will ever see; the place of darkness, disparity, and deprivation of the soul. It is also a place of bodily affliction for those who are in torment with physical illnesses. It is in this place where the deepest and most haunting memories of our lives dwell, and it is in this place that Jesus came to set us free.
One day, while Jesus was preaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath, He declared this verse in Isaiah to be speaking about Him. He said,
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD [is] upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to [those who are] bound;” - Isa 61:1 NKJV
Jesus knew His role when He came to earth, and through much trial and tribulation, He stayed the course. Through the emotional pain of rejection, the physical pain of torture, and the spiritual pain of His Father turning His head while the sins of mankind were heaped upon Him on the cross, Jesus never faltered.
We all suffer under the hand of oppression at times, some worse than others, we all suffer nonetheless. Suffering seems so illogical and opposite of what God created this world to be. For some who chose Christ as Savior, pain seems like torment from an unloving Father; but this is an emotional mirage, manufactured by a maniac called Satan who longs to get everyone to turn on God as he did. The sins of man opened the door to unintended suffering.
However, we have been equipped as children of God with weapons to stand in the course of temptation. When we have done all we can to stand, we are to continue to stand (Eph 6). We stand in faith that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do to see us through this life if we allow Him.
Everything we do is filtered through something we have done, someone who has taught us, the education we have or have not received, experiences and emotions. We filter everything that comes our way and often are not aware that we are doing so because it is habitual.
A filter is supposed to purify a thing; it is supposed to strain out anything that is impure before it is consumed or used for its purpose. Today most people strain their ideas and agendas through their emotions and how something makes them feel. Can you imagine if Jesus would have done that? One can hear the conversation now as Jesus complains and murmurs to the Father about the way He set up salvation and healing for the world in such a way that He would have to come down here and be humiliated and murdered. That type of behavior was simply not indicative of Jesus Christ. If Jesus obeyed His flesh in any of the days He walked the earth He would have sinned, and God’s plan would not have been accomplished the way He first intended. Thankfully, though Jesus did have a human side, He didn’t allow that side to rule Him when it came to living a life submitted to God. Neither should we.
Suffering Can Add to Life
It is so hard to believe that physical, mental, and spiritual suffering could add one iota of goodness to our lives but I believe it does. With the appropriate filter, the love and will of God and through the written word, suffering can bring forth life. There is a time of suffering for a mother when she is bringing her child into the world, a time of tremendous pain, but she knows, in the end, she will have brought forth life. The suffering becomes a valuable tool in bringing forth a new life.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. - Jas 1:2-4 NKJV
This word testing was translated from the Greek word peirasmós, and it means putting to proof, the experience of evil, discipline, and provocation by adversity or temptation (Strong's 3986). One of the biblical uses of this word can be found in Galatians 4:14 described as the trial made of you by the bodily condition. Paul wrote, “13 You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first. 14 And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, [even] as Christ Jesus.” - Gal 4:13-14
Paul was tested in his flesh, and in a different letter, he mentions being given a thorn in his flesh by Satan. Paul believed the thorn in his flesh by Satan was so that he would not be exalted above measure for all the revelations God had shared with him. The point is, there are physical infirmities in this world, even for those who preach the gospel. In fact, maybe more so, but they are used to try a person’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, and faithfulness as well as other characteristics.
As I have studied the ministers of old, I have found many of them had depression or various forms of physical illnesses. I don’t think it is a coincidence that so many preachers of the word of God suffered in such ways. We see it in this world and in the ancient world of the Bible.
Some positions in this world require testing as a means to prove the person’s character and maturity to be placed where there is much responsibility to others. With regards to Jesus and one of His roles in our suffering, the Prophet Malachi said, "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He [is] like a refiner's fire And like launderers' soap. - Mal 3:2
Malachi compared Jesus Christ as One who will bring forth cleansing and purification, and if we allow Him to do so, He will use our suffering. Suffering is here to stay until Christ returns. We must learn how to bear up under them as well as help others carry their burdens.
Suffering Can Build Character – When we conduct ourselves around others with love and joy even in times of suffering, we establish our character as one like Jesus. Our attitude around others while we are in pain can build confidence in them to know that when they go through trials, they too can stand. When we rejoice during the trials of life (though not easy to do), we have the opportunity to press into the test and allow our faith to produce patience knowing patience is a godly character.
Suffering Can Build Strength -- When we push through our circumstances to overcome the suffering, even if only for a little while, we build up our stamina for the next trial. When we allow God to be our strength and put His word in the center of our situation we can have faith to believe He will see us through; for when we are weak His strength is made perfect. (2Cor 12:9).
Suffering Can Build Compassion – Most people are compassionate towards the troubles of others, but only to the point it becomes bothersome to them. Our suffering can remind us of the troubles others are going through; giving us an opportunity to pray for those who are suffering from the same (or different) pain and a chance to comfort others with the comfort we receive.
Jesus Christ suffered, as we are all aware of, but to what extent He suffered one will never know because it was His trial and His dark place. However, we know that God’s will was released through Jesus even when Jesus cried out “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Mar 15:34
There are different opinions on why Jesus said these last words. I tend to agree with the scholars who say Jesus would have felt the emptiness of a life without the Father because God would have turned His face from Jesus at this point. Also, Jesus would have felt the pain and suffering of a universe of people, past, present, and even the future. His death and resurrection were for the sins of ALL who would call on His name and make Him Lord of their lives.
Pain often brings isolation and sometimes when we are living with pain it feels as if there is no one around, even when people are all over the place. Jesus lived a life of solitude even though He was always surrounded by people. He knew His day would come and He would bear His cross on His own. He would see the suffering of all humans from Eve until the last trumpet call, and no one could ever fully grasp who He was and what He came for. He submitted in the secret place, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42
Heavenly Father, thank You for the Cross that saved my life. Jesus, thank You for the obedience You had towards death, even on a cross, to bring all humanity to a reconciled place. I confess my pain and anguish to You today that at times it is all I can do to think about anyone else except myself in suffering. But, You Lord have called me to walk through the valley of shadows without fear but with faith, knowing Your rod and staff will comfort me. I know You're able to take this pain from me and from my loved ones, but even if You don't my heart is stayed on You. I confess that I’m in great need of peace in my body and my mind; I ask for the same strength of Jesus Christ to take me through the valley of pain and give You all the glory on the journey. In Jesus Name, Amen