Today’s post is by my friends TJ and Lilly Shropshire. TJ and Lilly are preparing for the mission field in West Africa. You will hear more about the mission they have been called to in future posts. But for now, I have asked them to share a little with us about suffering and the gospel.
What is your first thought when you think of suffering for the gospel?
March 7th is the day that I would have given birth to my little girl, Nola Grace Shropshire…. But God knew otherwise, He took her home 20 weeks into my pregnancy. But I can tell you that He has redeemed her death for life. She, without having even taken a breath, has affected more people here than I can count or even imagine.
When you think of suffering for the gospel, the first thing you think of is being persecuted, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, beaten or killed all for the sake of spreading the gospel in dark places. God has asked me to suffer for his sake, but not in the way I would expect.
Through my family’s pain and suffering God has healed hearts of those he loves, ministered to the needy, and has revealed Himself to us. In one weeks time the Lord allowed TJ and me to know God’s heart in a new and profound way.
2 Corinthians 1:3b-4
He has given us faith that moves mountains, trust that does not waver and a love for him that goes deep. My desire is not to boast in ourselves, but to tell you that we can boast in these things because the Holy Spirit in our time of need met us in our place of desperation. He became these things for us, when we couldn’t. And now WE have the opportunity to share Christ with others, that we are desperate for him, and in need of him constantly.
Where would we be without suffering for Christ? We would be the same people with the same level of faith that we had before, but instead God has changed us… grown us… THROUGH suffering. And so today as I grieve the loss of my baby I am beyond sad she is not here, BUT I am thankful that God gave us the opportunity to allow others to know Him more through our suffering.
“Though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
As I look back on these several months of working through the loss of our daughter and how it has brought glory to God in such a magnificent way, I can see that no matter what we’re suffering through, big things OR little things, there is always an opportunity for it to further the gospel and to glorify God. It comes down to OUR choice in how we respond to our circumstances. We can suffer and wallow in self pity, or we can choose to trust God THROUGH our suffering, that he will give us the strength, the faith, and the endurance to glorify him through our circumstances.