My grandmot her loved birds. She painted pictures of birds. She collected bird figurines and fine dishes from the Audubon Society. Her flower garden was alive with chatter and bursts of color swooping from branch to branch. I share this love with her.
Upon Grandmother’s death, I received a porcelain figurine of a bluebird perched on a dogwood branch. This too had come from the Audubon Society many years ago. Not only was it pleasant to my eye, but also its beauty connected me to my grandmother’s heart. No dollar amount could ever replace the joy this little guy brought me.
My boys were ages three and four. Wrestling Mania was big at our house—at least the Jones brothers’ version. They giggled and tumbled, somersaulting with legs thrashing. Whoops of joy pinged through the house.
And then it happened.
A flailing leg got too close to the coffee table and slammed into the bluebird. Wings shattered. Hearts broke.
“Mommy, Mommy! We’re sorry. We’re so sorry, Mommy.”
I felt sick, but the remorse from my boys kept me tethered to sanity.
“It’s okay. I’ll find a way to fix it. It’s okay.”
Oh Lord, how am I going to repair this damage? It will never be the same.
I remembered the superglue in the kitchen cabinet. Maybe, just maybe. I gathered the fractured bird and carefully carried the pieces to the kitchen table. Piece by broken piece, I molded the bluebird back to its former beauty. The lines of fragmentation were visible if examined closely, but the superglue did the trick. Bonded. Restored. Complete.
Fellowship is like that.
The Greek word for “fellowship” is koinonia (koy-nohnee-ah) and means sharing, unity, partnership. It denotes an intimate bond. “Koinonia cements the believers to the Lord Jesus and to each other.”2 Imagine being so bonded to the Lord that nothing can separate you from Him. Consider also that in the bonding you find restoration and completeness.
So what happens to this fellowship when suffering is involved? The Bible clearly refers to the fellowship of Jesus’ sufferings, so there must be something to this odd paradox. I believe God wants us to draw strength from recognizing the bond that is secured through the fellowship of His sufferings. He wants us to soak up this truth like a dry sponge and gain strength for the journey.
Are you in the throes of suffering now? Is the anguish of your heart threatening to suffocate you? The Master knows. He keeps a careful watch over you, governing the trial and adjusting the flame so you won’t be eternally marred or destroyed by its pain.
The Lord is honored by your willingness to endure this trial by fire for the sake of His Kingdom. His eyes are on you. His eyes are on me. I find great comfort in that knowledge.
Beloved, do not think it strange
concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,
as though some strange thing happened to you;
but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings,
that when His glory is revealed,
you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you,
for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
On their part He is blasphemed,
but on your part He is glorified …
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed,
but let him glorify God in this matter.
~ 1 Peter 4:12-14, 16
2 Spirit Filled Life Bible, 1628.
(Excerpted from The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife by Nan Jones, published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Used by permission.)
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How do you experience God in the midst of suffering? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife
Nan Jones ministered alongside her husband for thirty-one years in small, rural churches across North Carolina. She enjoyed the rewards of pastoral service, endured its fiery trials, and learned to find the light and comfort of God’s presence when ministry gets ugly. Nan is a Bible study teacher, author, and speaker who delights in helping Christian women find God in their darkest hours.
As a Christian communicator, Nan realizes that with the gift comes the responsibility–the responsibility of representing the Lord correctly, and the responsibility of being transparent and vulnerable to her audience and readers. She believes it’s in the transparency of struggles and failings that she can connect best with women just like herself who stand amazed at God’s tender love in themidst of the pain. For those who feel abandoned by the Lord, Nan offers reassurance that when we are broken, that is when He is the closest to His child. She teaches how to open our eyes to see Him and open our ears to hear His sweet whispers of love.
Connect with Nan at her website, www.NanJones.com.