Today’s pairing is “Rain, in Your Black Eyes” performed by Ezio Bosso, with a haunting underwater dance/film by Julie Gautier. See the video below.
“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”
Isaiah 48:10 (KJV)
Day 3. 266,115 confirmed cases, 11,153 deaths globally.
Jesus refers to himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He also says his followers should take up their crosses and follow him. The Way is the way to the cross. The Truth is crucified. The Life is a life of suffering.
Suffering is endemic to the human condition but essential to the Christian life. Christ bids us to die to ourselves. He models suffering for others. We do not run toward suffering for its own sake. Suffering is not good in itself. But in Christ, as we love God and love others, we will suffer, and in suffering, we will understand.
Not long after I broke my neck in a gymnastics accident, I sat in the dark of a movie theater and saw the words of Isaiah 48:10 on the screen. My dreams had been stolen. The rest of my life would be rifled through with chronic pain. Yet a sense of gratitude flooded over me. Perhaps there was some sense to the suffering. Perhaps I had been refined in the furnace of affliction and chosen to serve for the glory of God. Perhaps we all are.
We cannot choose whether to suffer. We can only choose what it will mean for us—whether we will let our suffering heal us and deepen us and teach us things about ourselves and about our God that we would never have otherwise known. Kierkegaard called it the school of suffering. We all attend the school, but we must each choose to learn.
As pain became my companion, suddenly I felt all my bones. What always hid beneath the surface arose with a rude and persistent ache. In a similar way, suffering illuminates the architecture of the soul. It makes us transparent to ourselves. It makes others visible to us who were not visible before. And it makes plain our need to rest wholly and unceasingly in God.
Suffering is frightening and ugly. It drags on at agonizing length and costs us all our strength. It makes us strain with every bone and muscle and tendon just to make it through another hour, another day. It carves away things we cherish.
In the end suffering abandons us to the depths, alone with God in silence and stillness. It teaches us, if we are willing to learn, that God himself is our final refuge, our final source of strength and solace. In suffering we lower ourselves, like Jesus, so God can lift us up.
The follower of Christ who learns wisdom in her suffering is like a moon mirrored in a lake: her light is only borrowed, and her lowliness reflects her height.
Sign up for CT Direct and receive these daily meditations—written specifically for those struggling through the coronavirus pandemic—delivered to your inbox daily.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more