When a Sword Pierces Your Soul
One of the things that strikes me about American Christianity, particularly that of the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement, is that it seems to believe that as Christians we will not suffer. If we do suffer, it’s either God has put something on us to teach us something (not true) or we don’t have enough faith (again not true). It seems that we shy away from suffering. I have been in church for 30 years now and I have heard thousands of sermons. But, I can’t remember hearing very many sermons at all on suffering. Yet, suffering and broken people are all around us.
Let me say this: Christians are not exempt from trials, tragedies and traumas! Despite what you might hear on TBN, life is full of suffering and brokenness. Life brings about trials, tragedies and traumas. We just can’t escape it. Life happens!
Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am not all about doom and gloom. I believe that Jesus does want us to experience victory and resurrection life. However, in order to have a resurrection you must have death. When we suffer it does bring about a kind of death. We must learn to die to our pride, our self-sufficiency and our self-reliance. Suffering teaches us that we must learn to rely on the saving power of God. Suffering helps us to realize that we are helpless without God.
I find Luke 2:34-35 one of the most intriguing pieces of scripture: Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
What does one do when a sword pierces your soul? Believe me, I’ve had many swords pierce my soul. The last four years of my life have seemed to be one sword after another. I allowed some to do more damage than they should have. Others, I learned how to rely more on God. One thing that I have learned about suffering is that when a sword pierces your soul, it will wound and scar you. However, God brings about healing. The scar will be there to remind us of what we went through but it will not be painful to the touch once healing is complete.
When a sword pierces our soul we have the opportunity to rely upon and lean into Jesus. He understands our pain, helplessness and frustration with life. He has been through life as a human and He understands the complexities of life. He understands that life brings forth trauma, tragedy and trial. In fact, He Himself said that in this life you will have tribulation. The Bible never tells us that we won’t experience heartache or suffering. It does promise that God will be with us through it all.
To me, that’s what so intriguing about God’s words to Mary. Here she is given the responsibility of raising the Messiah, God’s Son. One might think that God would grant her an easy lifestyle, yet He doesn’t. He tells her ahead of time that a sword will pierce her soul. It would seem that God allows suffering in our lives for a purpose. I will be honest with you: I don’t like that and I certainly don’t understand that. But when I look around at people in life, when I study the lives of the people in the Bible, it seems that God uses suffering.
One point of suffering is to lead us to a better understanding of the love of God. Now we must realize that God isn’t the author of our suffering…..life is. But God will use that suffering to show us His love and faithfulness. As we go through our “soul piercing” we learn that God is faithful to His word of never leaving us or forsaking us. I hate suffering, as we all do, but it can and should lead us closer to God because of His enduring faithfulness to us.
Suffering comes in may different packages. Some suffer with sickness and disease. Others suffer through broken relationships and failed dreams. Others suffer loss. It’s easy to compare my sufferings with others and realize that some people do suffer more than I do. However, we cannot minimize our pain. Pain is pain and it all hurts. We must address our suffering for what it is……pain.
When a sword pierces your soul you can allow it to kill you. Or, you can realize that suffering will bring your closer to the Lord Himself because He is the suffering servant.