Thursday, June 27, 2019

Back on the Farm and a Lesson in Suffering

There is something about exhausting yourself working outdoors.

I periodically head out to my Dad and stepmom's place to help them with their sheep. Today was to give injections and worming paste. Sadie often comes with me and keeps track of which sheep we've done based on their tags.

Dad has them in the barn before we get there. We bring in an extra fence and Dad keeps guard of the entrance. He'll grab one by the back leg, hand it to me for me to drag out and ready it for the shot and paste. My stepmom, Sally, is waiting with shot in hand. Once done, the sheep flee out the doors as fast as they can. They don't realize that their temporary suffering (me holding their heads tight and the pain of the injection and paste squeezed down their throats) is for their greater good. I've heard pastors call sheep "dumb," but I don't think we are much different.

We go through suffering, and we are upset that we have to go through it. We question why God would allow the suffering. We don't see any greater good coming from it. Just like my Dad's sheep. 

We don't realize that if we go through the suffering there WILL be good on the other side. Sometimes the "only" good is that we know our Savior better. Is that not enough good? It should be what we primarily learn in suffering. Sure we may be able to better relate to others in suffering. Sure we may be able to help someone who goes through what we went through. But primarily, we get to know the all-sufficient Savior better. That is enough.

The sheep don't realize that things will be better after their suffering of us penning them up, dragging them out, and holding them tight until vaccinated. We often don't realize that we will be better after our suffering--if only it means that we know Jesus more intimately. We discover His kindness and His compassionate care for us in our suffering. We see our need for Him more clearly.

Can a believer ever say, "I'm going through suffering, but I sure don't see any good coming from it”? By no means! We can confidently say, "Even though I see no good with my eyes as I circle this earth, I know good is here because my God is here with me. And despite the pain, I am more aware of His presence with me."
The perks of helping at my Dad's? Time with him and Sally. Time with Sadie. Feeling an exhausted body worn out doing work for God's glory. And no Diet Coke has ever tasted better than the one Sally brings in the throw away cup to take home. 

8:28 - And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (ESV)

16:11 - You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (ESV)

-Pastor Ben