Why should I be afraid of suffering?
I think about times in my life where my blindness had been removed and replaced with an accurate appraisal of how things were. I saw my inadequacy, I saw my need. These things do we have to been shown by the Holy Spirit. We cannot see them ourselves. God is too good a Father to let us see our shortcomings in anything less than the light of His love.
“For with Thee is the fountain of life: in Thy light shall we see light.” (Psalm 36:9)
The closer we get to God, the more we need Jesus to light the way for us. The closer we get to the source, the brighter and hotter will the source appear. The light gets just a little brighter with each step we take. And the closer we get, the more grace we will need to “bring [our] deeds to the light” as Jesus says in John’s Gospel (3:20-21). The grace that we receive enables us to get closer. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of things, relationships, feelings, etc. without first seeing a better thing. Here’s the trick. Aim at the highest to (and from) which all good things flow. Focus in on Jesus and the things that were preventing you and I from getting closer to the source, will fade. If there are things you see that are keeping you from getting closer to the Father, don’t worry and don’t consider the pain you feel that says that it’s impossible to give these things up. Look at Jesus. He’s always looking at you. He’ll help you see things in a different light.
There’s an analogy that’s apt for seasons such as this. It’s one thing to prune a tree or shrub or grapevine to give the roots access to the nutrients that the branches previously had access to thus allowing the plant to produce healthier and bigger fruit. But the analogy I’m thinking of here is that of leaving fruit on the vine for too long. God is calling everyone closer. And sometimes it can be hard to hear and harder to respond. Know this: God never puts His finger on something He wants to change without having in mind something better. And everything we have is a gift in the first place (see James 1:17). Just don’t let it rot on the vine.
“But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:18)
Y’know, you can fast from anything? It doesn’t have to be food. And I love this exhortation of Jesus to basically treat yourself right, to pamper yourself, in spite of limiting the things to which you allow yourself access in light of a greater revelation from God. Because you’re doing it for Him and Him alone. Fasting is a powerful tool when used correctly. And if the Holy Spirit intimates to you the desire to give up something, anything, for His sake only, know that He has some better thing in mind on the other side. Just beyond that other step. It might look dark, just wait till you get there. “Ye are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14)
“And He said unto them, Verily I say unto you, there is no man (or woman) that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or [spouse], or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.” (Luke 18:29-30) Not an excuse to abandon anyone, just make sure you pray through that thing you think you need to give up. Perhaps it’s the very thought of needing to give something up? The Holy Spirit knows.