The intolerable compliment

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell...whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want. Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little. To be God - to be like God and to share His goodness in creaturely response - to be miserable - these are the only three alternatives. If we will not learn to eat the only food that the universe grows - the only food that any possible universe ever can grow - then we must starve eternally."
~ C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Being deemed worthy of life is one of those compliments we never even thought to desire. I was deemed worthy of life, somehow, for some reason I do not understand! Why in the world did God decide, "I should create Genevieve!"? What possible purpose could I, His created being, have, if not to worship Him and serve Him with my life?

Suffering is another compliment I wouldn't have ever dreamed to ask for - for compliment it truly is, a conferral stating that I am capable of suffering this trial while still bringing Him glory, capable of looking to Him instead of cursing Him in the face of my calamity. He will exact His glory, whether through my strength under pressure (for which I give Him the credit), or as I struggle and fumble, yet another example of the crushing burden of the curse that may drive others to seek His face. There have been so many choices like that in my life already: I could have persisted in childhood complacence at age four, when I felt the first tug of uncertainty about eternity. I could have continued to stretch out my conscience in college, when I felt the gentle tug of the Holy Spirit whispering that I was called to a higher standard than my peers. I could have let bitterness and uncertainty creep in when I was faced with a health problem that doctor's couldn't fully explain as a teen. I could have become angry at God when I was forced by circumstance to watch the immeasurable suffering of parents losing their children to a horrible and tragic death. I could have cursed Him for 'blessing' me with four children in four years, stretching me far beyond my human limit. I could be railing at him now, for allowing me to have cancer at 29 and undergo painful surgery and an uncertain future, along with all the side effects of losing one of MY organs!

Yet if "the world is His and everything in it" (Ps. 50:12), my thyroid isn't really my thyroid, is it? My cancer isn't really mine either, is it? The next breath I take is no more my right than my thyroid is my right...for I come from, consist of, God's creation. I did not decide to be, and I will not decide to die. What I do decide is my response! Do I praise Him and run to Him for strength (for true strength, that 'peace that passes understanding', can only flow from Him, as much a gift as my next breath)? Or curse Him for allowing my pain, or even my existence in the first place? What, really, would I be asking for if I demanded release from this particular trial? Would I be asking that He lessen my opportunity to learn, asking Him to let me persist in my complacency, stupidity, and stubborn oblivion? I don't want to be oblivious. I want to acknowledge, know, and understand the eternal dimension. I want this suffering to bring Him glory for all eternity when I finally cast my jewels at His pierced feet!

the cross before me the world behind
no turning back
raise the banner high
it's not for me
it's all for YOU


not to us
but to YOUR name be the glory

our hearts unfold before YOUR throne
the only place for those who know...
~ Chris Tomlin, Not to Us