Seasons of Growth, Part 7: Unless We Suffer
A seed is just a lonely little seed unless it’s planted in some dirt and watered. But when the farmer plants the seed and waters it, the seed will germinate, grow into a plant, and produce fruit. Inside that fruit, you will find many more seeds. The seed dies and produces abundant life.
When we submit ourselves, our very lives, to the Creator and Lord of the Universe, we choose to give up our rights and live for Christ. We choose to live under a new order. If we want to spend eternity in heaven, we must follow Jesus right up to the point of suffering, but we cannot stop there. We submit ourselves to suffering and walk through the suffering, not wishing for a reversal. We walk through the pain and feel it in every way, receiving not resisting, so that we can be changed.
The seed, in the dark earth, buried and alone, undergoes the “excruciating” process of transformation into a plant. The hard outer shell cracks open, and the first root descends; next the shell completely breaks open, and the tiny seedling emerges with non-descript leaves into the light. The plant undergoes a continual process of transformation and fruit-bearing for the entire life cycle of the plant. But imagine if the seed began complaining about how its life was being disrupted, that it didn’t sign up for this much change, that it didn’t want to be alone and certainly didn’t think the gardener knew what He was doing, and why did it have to be extracted from the seed packet in the first place.
Jerry Sittser, in his book, A Grace Disguised, and again in A Grace Revealed, discusses suffering and God’s redemptive intent for us in suffering. God’s intent is not for us to:
- Wish it never happened
- Plead for its quick passing or that we would learn something
- Wish things would go back to normal or to a settled state
- Pray for relief in the pain
God’s intent in suffering is not a reversal of bad circumstances or even relief from the stress caused by the suffering. God’s intent is a death of the “old man” and a resurrection to walk in newness of life. God’s creation is filled with types of the resurrection: butterflies, seeds, etc. However, when God’s Holy Spirit comes into our lives and does His transforming work, we discover that everything is new! he transformed caterpillar and the sprouted seed both operate in their new life with the same set of DNA that they started with. God’s transformation of us is so complete that He crucifies our sin nature and gives us a new nature, which is made righteous in pure holiness. On the other side of suffering is a gloriously new existence and a changed life.
Scriptures to Ponder:
“Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me” (John 12:23-26).
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19).
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Colossians 3, the whole chapter.
by Heather Soukup, Director of Women’s Ministries