A perspective on suffering

In the gospels we read a lot of short stories (or parables) that Jesus told to illustrate a spiritual message. I thought I would take up this tradition. See if you can spot the deeper meaning in the following parable.


So there’s an old story I love, that goes a little something like this:


The cabin in the woods

There was a witch who owned a cabin, which was situated in the middle of the forest, and kept in good condition by her male servant. Day in and day out, travellers and sojourners from all walks of life would pass by seeking rest for the night. The witch would then deny them a stay, and then listen with great glee and delight as they plead desperately before she let them stay. However, she would give them this one charge: "If you sleep in the bed you must leave before daybreak. My servant will bring you a lantern one hour before sunrise." The witch, being cunning, had a luscious luxurious bed that made it impossible for any person, tired or otherwise, to leave the bed in a hurry. Her guests would then sleep on her lovely bed, and falling victim to its comfort, they couldn't manage to get up before sunrise.

The witch, seeking not to deter her would be guests, hadn't mentioned that should they not be up before sunrise, they would turn to stone. Day in and day out, this was the case, with each visitor. The servant would knock on the door before sunrise, only to be ignored each time and as the light of day fell on the sleepers, so it was that they turned to stone. One evening the servant was out in the woods collecting fire wood. He happened to see a princess on a splendid white horse. She had become lost in the forest. The princess was headed down the path that lead to the witches’ cottage. The male servant, knowing the impending doom to be bestowed on the princess, sought to find a way save her. He knew a short cut to the cottage so he dashed home and arrived well ahead of the princess. He had a plan to save her.

Though it was not permitted by the witch to enter the sleeping quarters of the guests, at the risk of his own life, he would break that rule to save her. He placed several large rocks underneath the mattress in order to disrupt the princess' rest. Unfortunately he was caught leaving the bed chamber by the witch and for disobeying her, he was severely beaten. Shortly after, there was a knock at the door. The door opened to reveal the beautiful princess. And sure enough when the princess went to sleep, she did not enjoy herself, after a night filled with much tossing and turning and discomfort, she was surely up before sunrise.

The message of the story:

The rocks, placed by the servant underneath the mattress, may have caused the princess much pain and discomfort. But, they were rocks of love.

The princess explained:

The princess represents the bride of Christ and the suffering servant is Christ. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV)

The beating explained:

The beating is the suffering of Christ on the Cross. Though unwarranted in Scripture, the nature of self-sacrifice is still evident in the servant in the story, who chose not to please himself but to offer himself up so that she may live.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. (Isaiah 53:6-11 ESV)

For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me." (Romans 15:3 ESV) 

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:16-18 ESV)

The bed explained:

The bed is the comfort of this world. The enticing nature of the bed resembles the attractiveness of the world and how well it appeals to the senses of man. Without divine intervention, no human wakes up of their own accord. 

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4 ESV)

The lantern explained:

The lantern is the light of the gospel and the truth of the word. Though the servant sought to give it to all who came, none woke up to receive it, and in so doing unknowingly traded pleasure for their lives. 

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12 ESV) 

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. (Isaiah 60:1-2 ESV)

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalms 119:105 ESV)

The knock explained:

The knock at the door is the call of Jesus to repentance.

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:11-12 ESV)

We should also suffer for Christ so that we can lead others to the light. The day is the Day of the Lord (Judgement day).  Are we prepared for that day or are we asleep?

The rocks explained:

Sometimes life does not go as we planned. Sometime life just hurts. Perhaps the thing you prayed to get from God, didn't turn out to be as you thought it would. Maybe you're going through a breakup or maybe you're just confused. Hurting. Aching. Feeling lonely and abandoned. At times like these it may seem like God is far away. Yet sometimes it is God who places the rocks in our beds. And as painful, stressful and uncomfortable as it may be, it is meant to lead you to life, and into the presence of his Glory. Don't waste your pain. Rather yield your life to God so that he can make something beautiful out of it, and out of your life.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:1-3 ESV)

My encouragement to you

God is doing something that you may or may not be aware of. And as painful, stressful and uncomfortable as it may be, it is meant to lead you to life, and into the presence of his Glory. Therefore, do not waste your pain.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13 ESV)

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