A Mirror or a Window?

“There is no character without suffering…there is no such thing as a saint who has not suffered.”[1]  How then can we use our suffering for good? Good is God’s intended purpose.[2]  It all depends on whether you are looking through a mirror or through a window.
        When I look at a mirror the only thing I see is an image of myself. Self-centeredness in suffering, in all of life, produces nothing good and is a waste of our sorrow. Self-centeredness produces resentment, rebellion, self-pity, depression, bitterness, discouragement and anger. It was never God’s intention for our sufferings to be self-destructive[3] but to work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.[4] To focus on self by continually looking into a mirror is to waste our times of sorrow.
         Self-centeredness was never God’s intended purpose for life is not about me. It is about using my times of suffering for the glory of God and ministering to others. In so doing, God ministers to our need and matures us.
        The answer to our suffering and sorrow is not a mirror but a window. The window allows us to look out, to look away from self.  The window is the way we “decentralize.” As we look through the window, the first person that we should catch sight of is God. “All of life is intended to be a pathway to God.” [Maclaren] He is both our greatest resource and the one who we are to glorify in our sufferings. One way we glorify Him is to allow Him to use our sufferings, sorrows as the means of developing in us the character of Christ. In the development of the character of Christ it is not always the character of the affliction that is important but the length of its continuation and one’s reaction to it. Simply put the length of our suffering, our sorrow depends on how long it takes for us to learn the lesson God intended for us to learn.
      The way we can glorify God through our sufferings, our sorrows is to use them as a means to minister to others. Our second view through the window is of others and their sufferings. This may mean we could be under the burden of suffering and sorrow for an entire lifetime. Our particular suffering may open doors of ministry open to no one else. In the grand scheme of time and eternity, a lifetime of suffering, sorrow is but “a season”[5], “a moment”[6] in light of eternity. How does God prepare us to use our suffering as a means of helping others? Paul stated, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”[7] What we receive from God is intended to be used by us in ministering to others in their times of need.
      J. R. Miller wrote, “Whole, unbruised, unbroken men are of little use to God.”  What is involved in being broken by God? “One is not broken until all resentment and rebellion against God and man is removed. One who resents, takes offense, or retaliates against criticism and opposition or lack of appreciation is unbroken. All self-justification and self-defense betrays an unbroken spirit. All discontent and irritation with providential circumstances and situations reveals unbrokeness. Genuine brokenness usually requires years of crushing, heartache, and sorrow. Thus are self-will surrendered and deep degrees of yieldedness and submission developed, without which there is little agape love…Until one is broken, he is full of himself, his plans, his ambitions, his value judgments. One is often so full of self that there is little room for more of God.”[8]
      It’s your choice – the mirror or the window. What you choose will determine the quality of your life and ministry.

[1] Billheimer, Paul E., Don’t Waste Your Sorrows, Christian Literature Crusade, Ft. Washington, PA
[2] Romans 8:28
[3] James 1:2 - 5
[4] 2 Corinthians 4:17
[5] 1 Peter 1:6
[6] 2 Corinthians 4:17
[7] 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4
[8] Billheimer, Paul E., Don’t Waste Your Sorrows, Christian Literature Crusade, Ft. Washington, PA

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