Sunday, March 1, 2015

Room 314: Where Hope is Found

My recent illness has caused me to see the form of self-sufficiency upon which I have been placing my hope, and to instead more fully place my hope and joy in Jesus Christ and His sufficiency for my life. Pastor John Piper has taught that since God is sovereign (in control) over all of life, including suffering, we can be sure that God is allowing the particular form of suffering to produce in us a "particular form of glory." In other words, the suffering we are enduring is not haphazard; it is allowed by God in order to cause us to awaken from the slumber of sin and re-orient the nature of our hope. As Christians, We are not called to enjoy suffering in itself. Grieving parents are not called to rejoice in the death of their child. Christians facing health issues are not called to rejoice in their physical pain. But we can rejoice that, since God engineers our sufferings, we can be sure that if we are active in our centering our hope in Christ, then through the particular forms of suffering God allows us to endure, we will ultimately not be disappointed (be "put to shame" as Paul says in Romans 5). In Colossians 1, we are assured that our salvation is assured "if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you have heard..." Colossians 1:23. In my case, the very form of suffering that I have endured has served to strengthen the source of my hope. I have this tendency to mentally check off a "to do" list in order to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day and to have a sense of control in my life. I manage a busy law practice as well as co-parent three living children at our home. Up until my recent illness, I did not realize the pride that I took in thinking that my efforts were maintaining control of my law practice and the upbringing of my children, among other aspects of my life. In Room 314, I was literally flat on my back. I was without strength to manage my children and manage my law practice. My children could not see me for much of my time in the hospital because of my bacterial infection. I could not muster sufficient strength to review and respond to work emails. I could not manage life in my own strength. I had somehow lulled myself into thinking that I was in control of my children's upbringing and the trajectory of my law practice. I don't know if there was any other form of suffering that God could have allowed that would have shown me the sin and fallacy of this self-sufficiency. Now that I have identified it as such, it is crucial that I release my sense of self-sufficiency and renew Jesus Christ as the source of my hope.

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