#9 – The Wisdom of Suffering [James 1:1-18]: A Testimony
I will be doing a few posts on my recent experience of suffering. I would like to tell my story to put some realistic perspective to suffering and give you something to relate to. I hope that it will be a blessing to you all.
Last year, in 2010, I went through a very trying time, (hence the theme of this series). It was probably the most challenging time of my entire life. And for a long time there was nothing I could do to change the situation. The Lord had chosen to radically prove me and mold me through suffering. And even though I didn’t understand it all, I had to submit to His ways. There was no other option. The virus was infiltrating my entire life and destroying EVERYTHING that was not built on Christ. It was tough, to say the least. Especially to realise that so much was not build on Christ. In one short period, my entire life as I knew it, everything I had spent years building up, came tumbling down. The virus had truly wiped me out.
It all started when all of a sudden, my job situation began to shake. The company had lost its biggest client, and with that, most of its cash flow. My salary was slashed in half and so was my job security. At times, none of the employees were paid for over a month. And when we were paid, it was half of what it was supposed to be. We ended up in a catch 22 situation where if we left the company we would not have money to live, and no promise of getting the money we were owed. We were all in a bit of a pickle, to say the least.
At the same time, my understanding of church started shaking. I began asking questions about why things are the way they are and why there is no biblical reference for so much of what is done. This was very tough. Many of the church friends that I had could not handle this kind of questioning and found it difficult to relate to me. Much of the foundation upon which my spiritual life was build began to crumble. All of a sudden I found myself very alone in a big and nasty world.
I remember lying in bed one morning asking myself why I should get up. I didn’t have a job, I could not study, because I had no money, I had debt. I felt like I had no purpose, no reason to get up and live. No life. Everything had been taken. And at the same time, I had no more status or respect amongst my church friends. No more cell group to lead, no more mission trips to pursue, no more glory meetings to enjoy, nothing. My whole world had been turned upside down in the space of a few months.
I remember using an illustration to help people understand what I was experiencing. It was like I was in a big house, full of many things. Full of colour and light. Full of life. Every room portrayed a different aspect of my life. There was a room for church, a room for work, a room for study, a room for sports, a room for friends, a room for family, and so on. And I had the freedom to go in and out of every room and enjoy myself there. And then, one day, all of a sudden, literally in one foul swoop, the house blew up, and I found myself alone in a little dark room not able to see anything.
I guess it felt similar maybe to what Joseph might have felt when he also, in one foul swoop lost everything, and found himself alone in a dark dungeon in Egypt. Wondering what had happened to all the dreams and promises he had had. Wondering why God had left him and forsaken him to death. Wondering…
And that is exactly where I found myself. Afraid, alone, and confused. Wondering where it all had gone. Wondering why it was happening. Wondering aimlessly with nothing to hold onto. Just Wondering….