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This morning my son peed his pants no less than 5 times. Not included in that number involved me squatting in front of him to help him go on his little toilet. Then he peed on my face. On. My. Face. We had a lesson of how to aim after that. Shortly after the pee ensued, my husband spilled coffee all over my planner. I slept on and off a total of 4 and a half hours last night due to my lack of time management, a 4 month old getting up at all times of the night, and a 2 year old that wakes before the sun. Beating my chest, smashing our coffee mugs to smithereens on the floor, and high-knee stomping around the living room did not seem very adult. So to cope with my lack of sleep and other mishaps, I stood, nostrils flaring, and stared at my husband for longer than what is appropriate and then flung myself in bed for approximately 20 minutes without moving.
Motherhood is a time of pure hardship folded in with joy, but is it suffering? I have to remember our kids are not persecuting us with bad behavior because we love Jesus. This bad morning, my friends, is NOT “suffering” for Jesus Christ. It is not the suffering John refers to in Revelation when he talks of the tribulation the church in Smyrna was enduring on His behalf.
I was recently chatting with some women about how we may have suffered because of our witness for Christ. My initial thought was about my stay-at-home-with-two-babies job status and how difficult it has been. Some of the women went on about taking care of aging parents, not being invited to the bar with the “hip” coworkers, and being made fun of for being a “goodie goodie.” The scene of pee in my hair, coffee on my planner, babies crying, and toddlers throwing tantrums disintegrated out of my mind. My eyes glazed over as I recounted an ISIS execution that happened late August. Suffering is watching your son’s tiny precious fingertips get cut off one at a time, because you will not renounce the name of Christ and return to Islam. It is letting it go on to the point of execution for your son for the sake of the cross. Suffering is being raped then beheaded in front of an entire crowd, because you will not turn away from your faith. Have I experienced true suffering on behalf of Jesus? No. I have not. Have I struggled so much to make it through my day-to-day banal routine that it brings me to tears or, rather, face down on my bed unable to move? Yes.
According to the dictionary.com to suffer is “to feel pain; to sustain injury, disadvantage, or loss; to undergo a penalty, as of death; to endure pain, disability, death, etc., patiently or willingly (emphasis mine).” We experience plenty of suffering, but is it considered willingly? Are we willingly suffering because we stand on the founded truth that Jesus is our Savior? We need to, I need to, redefine what “suffering for Jesus” looks like.
A highly esteemed woman of faith brought up how we all suffer for Christ, and she gave a few examples of losing a loved one or enduring depression. This time I did not bring up ISIS or John in Revelation. I passively nodded my head in agreement and mentioned someone experiencing real pain from cancer and the treatments she is undergoing. I was too afraid to take a stance on what I believe real suffering as a witness of Christ looks like. This is not to discount the daunting overwhelming nasty hardships we go through or to say God doesn’t care about our hardship or pain.
God cares that our time is spread so thin between our full time job, driving kids to activities, and providing non-stop care for our parent on hospice. He cares. He cares that we are excluded amongst our coworkers. That my son peed in my face. This is hardship and a real struggle, and He cares. My point is we have to stop watering down what is means to be persecuted or to suffer for Jesus Christ. When Jesus wanted to prepare his disciples for persecution he told them to walk without fear and acknowledge Christ before anyone and everyone. This is powerful advice for those facing extreme persecution and those living on blessed soil where suffering is not waiting for us to meet him.
Remember those who are imprisoned, beat, raped, tortured, and executed for being a faithful follower of our God, Jesus Christ, by partnering with them in prayer, fasting, and bearing their burden as they stand as our front line as Christians. This is how we can acknowledge what it means to suffer and be persecuted. This is how we join them as brothers and sisters in Christ. We must remember when we are cleaning pee off the floor for the thousandth time to be encouraged that we are given another day to live for God’s glory!