Last year, my pastor preached a particularly convicting sermon about suffering. In the days to follow, I began to ask God to help me identify with Him in His suffering. I wanted to know what this verse meant. Well, let me warn you, be careful what you pray for – because God answers prayers.
I don’t know what I expected when I prayed. Maybe God would write the answer in the sky or send me an email, letting me know my prayer had been answered. Maybe I would hear the bells ringing and choirs singing in heaven. I wanted, after a brief period of suffering (I am not big on pain) to hear from Him that I had achieved His fellowship of suffering. It did not happen like that at all. The prayers I prayed concerning the fellowship of suffering were well over a year ago. The prayer was answered on a hard carpeted bench in a skating rink, lit only by strobe lights and a disco ball reflecting on the skate floor. The fellowship I shared was with a heartbroken six-year-old boy with a tear stained face. The boy? My son.
Several days of poor choices, bad behavior, and unacceptable grades led my husband and me to make some tough decisions concerning our son. After much prayer and discussion, we decided the best plan of action was to remove the blessing of a free elementary skate night if his behavior did not improve. He was given notice and had one week to show us he deserved the blessing. Oh, how my heart broke when my caller ID displayed the school’s name and I realized Griffin would not be allowed to participate in the free skate night.
Part of the punishment for Griffin was to go to the skating rink, sit with me and watch the other boys and girls, many of them his friends, skate. He begged to stay at home. Then he begged to sit in the car. My heart continued to ache as I watched his head bow low while I helped his sister put on her skates.
Through the Holy Spirit’s prompting, I did not sit with the other mothers. Nor did I converse with teachers. I took my son’s hand and walked with him to the opposite side of the rink and sat down. Tears began to flow from his eyes and roll down his cheeks. I swallowed hard and struggled to hold back my tears as he crawled in my lap for comfort. In a brief moment as I held my heartbroken son and watched my daughter skate, a presence came over me, a knowing… a knowing of the fellowship of suffering.
God sees us, all His children. He holds us close when we have gone astray, made bad choices, or have a heart full of poor motives. He sits with us through His gentle discipline while watching His other children enjoy the benefits and blessings of living an obedient life. The experience I shared with my Heavenly Father is one I will never forget. It was a brief moment because I know He loves me too much to allow that knowing to stay with me for too long, the pain was so intense.
He is with you to share the benefits and blessings of living an obedient life. He is there with you, as a loving Father to hold you through the discipline of disobedience and bad choices. He only disciplines those He loves. What a blessing to be loved that much!