I Choose Suffering
A missionary accepts pain and finds joy and peace.
Half past six in the morning found me outside on my morning prayer walk. Although I could hardly make my legs move, I was determined to walk. Even at turtle speed, pain shot through my legs up to my hips. I waddled worse than a goose, and I must have been a crazy sight—but I didn’t care. I was out for a walk with my Best Friend—and I certainly needed some exercise. Nothing would deter me from my commitment: I had decided to walk every morning unless bedridden.
I passed our car parked near the house and soon made my way down the driveway between two ponds. When I reached the other side of the ponds, my eyes caught sight of some flowers that have often cheered my soul. I smiled big as their yellow faces smiled back at me like little sunbeams.
Though only flowers, these little blessings reflected the face of God. I could see His smile; I just knew He was smiling at me that moment! Not only that, but I felt as though I were in His very presence. I knew He was there with me! It seemed as though I were in a different place, with the atmosphere of Heaven surrounding me. Emotion swelled in the very depths of my soul.
Oh, what words could I use to describe the joy and peace that comes from knowing my Friend? I find it impossible to portray in writing. This joy and peace can only be known when you abide in His presence and “taste and see that the Lord” is truly beyond “good.” Psalm 34:8.
His love never ceases to amaze me! How can He love me so much? “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.” “God is love,” and “we love Him, because He first loved us.” 1 John 3:1; 4:8, 19. It brings tears to my eyes every time I think of it.
I had been very sick for over a week, but seeing God’s smile on my morning walk strengthened my heart. My trust in God and my love for Him increased even more. It was OK that I was suffering, and it would continue to be OK. I have known physical suffering for most of my life. I’ve become even better acquainted with it here in the mission field. Perhaps God will choose to heal me before Jesus comes back, and that would certainly be a great joy; but the choice of healing or no healing is up to Him. When He comes, “this corruptible” will “put on incorruption, and this mortal” will “put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:53. I trust Him with the time between now and then.
If suffering is what it takes to keep me close to God’s heart, then that is the only path I’ll take. I wholeheartedly choose suffering. I want nothing more than to be close to Him and to be ready to live with Him eternally. We are joint-heirs with Christ “if so be that we suffer with Him.” Romans 8:17.
Jesus is continually teaching me that with Him I can have great joy and peace even through suffering. I can still smile and sing—smile big and sing with all my heart—because great is His faithfulness and love towards me, a sinner.
“The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.” Psalm 118:14. And because of that, “Though He slay me, yet,” through His strength, “will I trust in Him.” Job 13:15.
Sharon Steck and her family are missionaries at Sunshine Orchard Learning Center in Thailand. www.sunshineorchard.org
How You Can Help
Pray for the health and strength of the missionaries around the world, especially Sharon as she faces an undiagnosed illness.
Pray that God’s people all over will, like Jesus, be made “perfect through suffering.” Hebrews 2:10.
Donate. Sunshine Orchard Learning Center relies on donations to feed, house and provide education to over 200 students. Send your check marked “Sunshine Orchard” to Jesus for Asia, PO Box 1221, Collegedale, TN 37315, or visit www.jesus4asia.org/invest/ and scroll down to “Sunshine Orchard Learning Center.”