“Lord you are more precious than silver,
Lord you are more costly than gold,
Lord you are more beautiful than diamonds,
and nothing I desire compares with you…”
I sang my daughter Corrie to sleep to this tune tonight being reminded of how precious it has been to me this last year of 2019. Each year at some point on January 1st, I sit down with my Bible and journal and ask the Lord to give me His heart for the year approaching. January 1st of 2019, the Lord gave me this verse to focus on:
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:7-9
The summary of that verse was the theme “Content in Christ” or “Jesus is Enough”. I hadn’t been looking for or expecting this to be what He directed me to in Scripture, but soon found out how the Lord’s providence had directed me there.
This year we have walked through more intense, acute pain than we have ever been faced with. Losing two children in one year has been the most heart-wrenching sorrow to call our own. But it is ours. How do we trust the Lord with a pregnancy that ended before we could hardly tell anyone about it? And how do we to trust the Lord with a pregnancy with an almost fatal diagnosis that lasted 24 whole weeks? How? This can only be done when you look at your life in context of Christ and not in context of you.
See, as unpopular as it is to say – our life is not for our dreams, not for our family and not for our prosperity. Though my flesh longs to have a happy, pain-free life… when I chose to follow Jesus, I signed up for a cross. Not for a pillow. What my God promises me is not physical healing, but that which will sanctify and heal my sinful, rebellious heart! If our focus after this year was to demand of God physical healing – we would have missed the whole point. God is not after our prosperous lives full of health and wealth. He is after our hearts. Sometimes it takes the lack of those things to even treasure the Pearl of Great Price (Matthew 13:45-46).
I found myself asking this question after we lost our first baby: “Just as my brothers and sisters in persecuted countries choose to follow Jesus through their pain … Is Jesus worth believing in in the middle of my pain? Will I follow Him there as my persecuted brothers and sisters also follow Him?” The answer is the same for them as it is for us. Yes. Jesus gives LIFE in the midst of this insecure, death-filled world. That life is much deeper than physical life. It’s union with God Himself! Spiritual life then can never be shaken no matter what happens.
The year 2019 has given me a longing for heaven I knew I was missing before. Why long to see the face of Jesus when you have so many other things you dream of here? Friends, life becomes very black and white when suffering is close. Do not settle for this earth. Do not think that Jesus came just to give you a better story here on Earth. His redemption is primarily one meant to make your soul pure before Him so that when you see him you will not shrink back. Be ready! Press into knowing Him and being sanctified by His WORD so that we do not shrink at His coming! He is coming.
Our suffering this year has been the fire of the soul that burns all that doesn’t really matter away. Are we done? By no means. But as we look at eternity with fresh eyes, we see just a bit more clearly that ALL else is rubbish compared to gaining Christ. Remember this, friend, as you enter 2020. Don’t make anything else your goal than to gain the Pearl of Great Price. He’s worth it. He’s worth giving your whole life (and every specific aspect of it) to Christ.
“…For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:8b-11