Editor’s Note: We present another article from our buddy, The Winged Hussar. Due to the nature of the post, we would request that any nitpicking over theological concerns be saved for another time and place. Any nitpicking comments will be deleted. Rather, let’s discuss how suffering has affected us and what we learned from the experiences.
10 “We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp.
12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.”
At some point in every Christian’s life, there will be times when he or she feels alone, maybe even abandoned by God.
Today I struggle with my own experience in this. In just a few days before I go under the surgeon’s knife in a third attempt to remove a malignant brain tumor, to be followed by a combination of radiation and chemotherapy. There is not much evidence that this course will provide much benefit in the long term. For the last 8 years, but especially the last couple of months since the disease has progressed to a more aggressive stage, I have spent no small amount of time on bruised knees, crying out to our Lord and Savior for Him to speak to me. Alas, I have heard not a word. It almost seems to me after the life I have led, I have received my just due, the penalty for years of living against God. I am tempted to believe that, with God’s silence weighed heavy on me as evidence of His eternal curse. I know that is not the case, however.
It is no new experience to man to feel this way. It is common, even in the Bible, that men who were close to God experienced this same feeling.
Charles Spurgeon: “He who now feebly expounds these words knows within himself more than he would care or dare to tell of these abysses of inward anguish.”
CS Lewis: “What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?”
“Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am pining away; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are dismayed. And my soul is greatly dismayed; but You, O Lord–how long?”
“Will the Lord reject forever? And will He never be favorable again? Has His lovingkindness ceased forever? Has His promise come to an end forever? Has God forgotten to be gracious, or has He in anger withdrawn His compassion”
“O God, do not remain quiet; do not be silent and, O God, do not be still”
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.”
Jesus echoed that psalm on the cross: “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
So we ponder the charge to go outside the camp and share in the sufferings of Christ. We can then ask ourselves, “what is the camp?” For this Winged Hussar, indeed for every believer, the camp is not your community, it’s not your church; The camp is the kingdom of God, the presence of God, the evidence of God in your life.
What does it mean to share in Christ’s sufferings? For me, I do not personally consider cancer sharing in his suffering. For one, it’s a disease, and it hasn’t been all that bad for me physically. In fact it has gotten me out of taking out the garbage more than once, and saved me many hours of yard work. My wife could give a more detailed description of activities and lost manpower hours this affliction has “cost me.” Sometimes it even makes my life easier.
We must ask ourselves what were Christ’s sufferings? The reproach of his people, the betrayal by his children, public humiliation, torture, and death on the cross. certainly. But what was the greatest source of his suffering? The agony that finally caused the human nature in Jesus to cry out ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” I believe Christ’s greatest suffering was the moment when, he who had from eternity past, always enjoyed perfect unity with the Father, for the first, and only time ever, was separated from the presence of God. Hell by definition, is the separation from God’s presence, from the light of his glory,cast into the outer darkness….alone.
So my friends, in your darkest hour of need, when all seems lost, and you feel God has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to your plight, take heart in knowing that in this time, you are indeed sharing in the sufferings of Christ. You have been counted worthy to do so. It’s in these times that your desire for God is proved true or not. When nothing but God’s presence will comfort you. This is how we know that we belong to Jesus. That there is purpose to our suffering, and that purpose is to glorify God. So the purpose is to learn to endure, persevere, and strengthen your faith. Now it’s time to get on your feet, take up your cross, and approach humbly before God’s throne of grace. There, lay down your life at the feet of our Lord, put your faith and trust in Christ and say, “Father,not my will, but yours be done.” This is saving faith, this is a sacrifice that is pleasing to God.
God willing, in the future perhaps I will have the opportunity to write another article, but if not, then my friends I leave you with these last words.
I am the Winged Hussar, and my name, is Patrick Czyzewski. Next year, in the “new Jerusalem”.