Thursday, February 09, 2006

Afflictions and Sorrow

I mentioned in an earlier post that I would share a couple of prophetic words given to us. My husband and I affectionately refer to the following word as the "You-won't-have-an-easy-life Word."

Son and daughter,

You are going to have more burden inside of you; your needs are going to be the needs of others. You're going to be able to relate. I'm going to make you more aware of the needs of the hurting and broken. I will give you compassion and the ability not to give up. Grace is granted to you; for the prize will be to those who endure.

Battles will come. You will not have an easy life. I am not granting you an easy life. I will grant you, though, deliverance. There will be afflictions, but I will deliver you out of them all.

I'm going to grant you strength; I'm going to grant you a heart for others. You will know what sorrow is all about. You will have a testimony that says, "but God came to heal me;" and you will see that it will be a part of your destiny.

The person giving this word was a prophet visiting our church at the time. It is the only word I have ever questioned, asking for more specific details.

At the time, I thought, "what the ???, I don't want to suffer!" There wasn't anything in the word about how wonderful we were and how great our future would be.

At that point in my life, I had no theology of suffering. My belief was that as long as we loved and obeyed God, our lives would be blessed with comfort and ease.

I didn't understand the book of Job and hoped I never would. Surely a testimony like that was for someone else, not me. I wanted to prosper and be blessed, to be a testimony to the goodness of God.

While I have yet to experience the degree of suffering many people have, I've tasted enough to have to rethink my idealistic notions of walking with God.

I've learned to trust him in the desert place, the wilderness, and in the midst of unanswered questions and prayers. I've had to grow in my understanding and accept pain as a part of that growth.

Like the song "Blessed be Your Name," I can now say "on the road marked with suffering, though there's pain in the offering,...my heart will choose to say, blessed be Your name!"

12 comments:

rich said...

Blessed Be Your Name is a favorite of mine. I love the allusions to Job.

I like what you say about a theology of suffering. I didn't have one either. Then I lost 2 jobs in 3 years and spent 12 out of 24 months out of work. I was so angry with the church for not having me prepared for this. No one ever explained to me the road marked with suffering or the pain in the offering. That was what started me down the road of the emerging conversation. I needed a more complete Gospel. I needed the whole story.

Anonymous said...

Hey Grace,
A friend gave me a book to "pre-view" the other day. It is "The Barbarian Way" by Erwin Raphael McManus. It has a lot to say about what you speak of in this post. I think we are easily swayed, especially in America, to think that Jesus is the answer to all of life's woes ... and He is ... but not in the way that we want to believe. He didn't come to give us an easier life, but a fuller life. Pick a New Testament hero that ended up rich and comfortable, with a secure job, a nice pension, and a nice home to let down their hair. That is definitely the American dream, but Jesus ain't American.

Matt / Widebody

David Cho said...

Thanks for sharing, grace. Keep it coming.

I do have to question though. The prophetic words seem pretty generic, and could apply to just about anybody especially if he/she defines suffering liberally. Nobody thinks he has an easy life. Heck, Paris Hilton complains of a hard life.

This is not to say that I am looking for something more sensational in order to seek validation when it comes to prophecy, but specificity seems to be lacking.

I am saying this not to stir debate with you, but because as you know, this is an area that I am looking into.

Robbymac said...

David,

Since you're asking Grace, and not me, I'll just toss in my 2 cents and get out of Grace's way. :)

A lot of prophetic words may sound generic to others who are overhearing them, but often (not always) there is some phrase that the person speaking uses (usually unknowingly) that triggers something in the other person (Pam H. had a great example over at my blog of this). That's also been my experience when a prophetic word seemed really "on"; it was almost like God spoke through the other person without them realizing the significance of what they were saying.

My shut up now. Hope that didn't make things murkier for you! :)

David Cho said...

I have had a "prophetic word" spoken to me, which was entirely unsolicited. But I will share the specifics of it after grace responds.

grace said...

Rich,
The lessons learned through pain aren't very fun, but I think they make us more useful to the kingdom.

Hi Matt, great to see you here. It sounds like a great book. I'll have to add it to my growing wish list. I totally agree that our American gospel hasn't been an accurate portrayal of life with Jesus.

David,
I understand what you're saying, and I'll try to answer without writing a book. First, ditto what robby said.

As the person receiving the word, we only hear in the context of our current circumstances, and are only able to confirm the accuracy of the word by the subjectivity of what "witnesses" to our spirit.

Therefore, we may not relate to a word that is accurate, but pertains to unknown circumstances in our future.

The specifity of the word depends on the degree of word of knowledge that the person giving it flows in. Personally, I've run across very few people who are strongly gifted in word of knowledge.

However, I've heard hundreds of more general words that I would say are equally accurate to a person's situation, but lack specifics which makes them sound generic.

My personal rule for receiving a prophetic word is the same as receiving other advice and teaching: take what you can use.

I hold on to words that, as best as I can tell, are God speaking to me through another person. I shelve for the future words that might be God speaking to me, but I don't understand how they apply for now. And I toss anything that seems to come from a critical or manipulative spirit.

There is a fine line between presumption and the boldness required to prophesy. I believe everyone should prophesy, but with great humility and understanding of our own fallibility.

If we're going to be open to the possibility of hearing the words of God from our brothers and sisters (not just the professional prophet), we will have to extend grace to one another.

That's my short answer. :)

Robby,
Thanks for jumping in. You explained that very well. There is also the unexplainable factor of a general-sounding word with an anointing that pierces your heart, leaving no doubt that it is God's word very specifically to you.

Captain Mom said...

This. is. such. a concept. And wrapping our feeble brains around it? And then even understanding that in His great love he either gives/allows (depending on the personal theology there!) trial, pain and struggle, precisely because in this love, His way, this is what refines us, and prepares us for eternity with him? Wow. I'm glad I'm not the Lord. And this last year, I too, began singing that song, Blessed Be the Name, with a different heart. And that heart, I think, has to be willed to accept that truth. It doesn't necessarily just feel good!

RonMcK said...

Regarding the personal connection to the prophecy, the expression "Grace is given to you" struck me as an interesting link to Emerging Grace.

Regarding suffering, I once made the mistake of doing a dissertation on 1 Peter 4:12-17. They are marvellous words.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

David Cho said...

Thank you, grace. That is educational. A lot to digest.

My personal rule for receiving a prophetic word is the same as receiving other advice and teaching: take what you can use.

But doesn't a prophetic word has some supernatural elements built into it, which means you should take it much more seriously than other advice and teaching?

Here is my brush with the "prophetic word."

Went to a prayer meeting that someone at church was hosting at home. Turned out that nobody else showed up except for me. His mother happened to be in town, so there were three of us.

We spent some time in prayer. And then they decided to surround me and start praying for me. They both began to speak in tongues for a few minutes, and his mother began to utter the following:

"I see in your future, going back to Korea (she knew I was Korean because that was the first question she asked me), and preach God's word to the Korean people. May the Lord bless these lips as they will utter God's Word to the Korean people" while her finger was running all over my lips.

Well, that was over 7 years ago. I am not back in Korea. I am actually pretty far removed from the Korean-American subculture, and I see no signs of taking that role anytime soon.

The "prophetic word" was somewhat insulting to me. Felt like after meeting a Korean guy, she kinda had to come up with something, and that was that.

Should have sent my friend who is half Japanese and half Jamaican to go to her and test out what her prophetic word would be. Japan first, and then Jamaica? Or Jamaica first, and then Japan?

An addition to the story. That evening, a guy and his girlfriend were supposed to attend, but they couldn't make it. The lady proceeded to say some specific things about the couple that she "envisioned," but none of what she said was true.

That is my experience with the "prophetic word" which I know hardly constitutes sufficient data to discredit it. It was kinda creepy to be honest with you. Got the heck out of there as quickly as I could.

grace said...

David,
Thanks for sharing your experience. I've seen stuff like that too.

Do you think her words were God speaking to you? From what you described, I'm guessing you don't.

I don't know the sincerity of this person, but it isn't uncommon for people to try to add weight to their ideas or prayers by claiming God said it.

Yes, a prophetic word should be supernatural revelation. However everything that is spoken in that way is not always purely divine. At worst, it is simply the other person's thoughts. At best, it is often a mixture, because to be honest, our vessels often get in the way of a purely divine word.

I know that's kind of sad because it makes prophecy sound so tarnished and ordinary. It can be awesome and supernatural, but like anything else, it can also be misused and abused.

I Cor.14:29 refers to "weighing carefully what is said." I think we have a responsibility to discern what we hear, and not to necessarily except everything spoken at face value.

Above all, trust what God is speaking to your own heart. No matter what has been prayed over me, I trust first in God's ability to fulfill His plans for my life. I don't have to make it happen. I know that He will do the same for you.

I hope I've addressed your question and not simply muddied the water.

David Cho said...

What you are speaking of is discernment, which Christians of all stripes can use desperately. And the prophetic word is no exception.

Thanks for the thoughtful response.

grace said...

Thanks captain mom and ron for your comments. It's easy to skip over those parts of scripture or to think that they just apply to martyrs. Who knew it might apply to all of us.