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Living Scripture through suffering

Live It Up!

Live it Up pulls together content and stories about intentionally living lives that are enriched by Scripture and inspired to action. Our prayer is that we would grow to understand the purpose we’re given in God’s Word and subsequently live out our lives on purpose.

As a singer/songwriter and Christian creative, Sarah Sparks creates music and art through which she hopes her audience will be “both convicted by truth and comforted by truth.” One place you can be convicted and comforted by Sarah’s work is on the cover of the CSB Notetaking Bible, Stained Glass Edition. Below, Sarah reflects on living out Scripture as a daily practice, even in suffering. 

Lacking in Nothing

Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-5.

This past April was our two year anniversary of trying to get pregnant. We have done all the tests and bloodwork and surgeries. It has become something of a second job for me with tracking his schedule and mine, making appointments, calling doctors, researching, etc. The laparoscopic surgery I had done confirmed that I have endometriosis and that it doesn’t look good for us to ever get pregnant naturally with the damage endometriosis has already done. 

At the same time, babies are everywhere. Pregnant women too. I’m getting older so this makes sense because the women my age are moving on to the next life stage whether I do or not. I’m caught literally looking in the face the thing I’d like to have but don’t. I’m seeing baby announcements, I’m planning baby showers, holding newborns. All of it.

And it is a great test of whether or not I believe what I say I believe. To live out in my life the words that God gave us for living. To practice what I preach. I have told others that God is good in the midst of suffering. I have said that my hope is solely in Christ. As good gifts are withheld from me, where is my hope?

I’ve been asked to write about moving beyond just reading Scripture, to living out the words of Scripture in our daily lives. Which I’m thrilled about. The older I get, the more of life I encounter, the more passionate and confirmed I am in that the words that God gave to us are for us; for the coming suffering, for our fight against sin, and for our day-to-day living.

It is the key to a life of joy in the midst of the sadness of a sin-sick world.

If this is not enough proof in and of itself for why we should be living out the words of Scripture in our daily lives (which I think it is), here’s a bit more:

If suffering isn’t already here, it’s on its way. 

James tells us to “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” Not if – when. Christians are many times shocked to find suffering at their door. Trials demand answers to the harder questions of life.

Why is God silent? How can God be sovereign and allow this suffering? Does God love me if He withholds a good thing from me?

The Bible has answers but if you have not been living out these words in your daily life, you will find the questions shocking and the answers far away. A hard suffering will shake you to your core. You have not practiced for the coming test.

Times of suffering are a great opportunity for the believer to visibly live out the words of Scripture, but it is not the best time to start practicing. This would be similar to a man having his first swim practice as his boat goes down in the open water. The best time to practice swimming is not as you drown. 

Sin is crouching at the door.

I’m not sure why this description of sin from Genesis 4 has always stuck with me, but when a bitter, envious, prideful or otherwise sinful thought sneaks into my heart, I frequently think of personified sin crouching at the door, waiting to overtake me. Like the example of Cain, many terrible sins have their start in seemingly innocuous ones. Small seeds of bitterness or pride can breed and give birth to murder and affairs. There are no innocuous sins and one of the primary ways that you live out the words of Scripture is in your daily fight against sin.

Yesterday, we had another appointment and procedure, and as most are, it was awkward and unpleasant. It’s just all very personal stuff you’re dealing with and many people are brought into what is supposed to be private. I’m generally a pretty open person and I feel very exposed and vulnerable at these appointments. We’ve got a few more months for this last thing we’re trying and I will be overjoyed if I get a positive pregnancy test. But if there is no baby at the end of all this work, it will feel like a huge waste of our time and money and hopes and dreams. It is the culmination of years of my life spent pursuing this dream for two years of a consistent monthly answer of no.

Today I got the pregnancy announcements of two of my friends.

Sin is always crouching at my door.

The thoughts that sneak into my head are much uglier than I would’ve guessed they’d be. I catch myself counting other people’s children, judging parenting styles, condemning them for taking for granted how easily they got pregnant (as if I don’t do the same with other good gifts God has given me). 

I’m living now in the intersection of suffering and temptations to sin in the suffering as it continues. If I can do well in living out the words of Scripture in my daily life, it is a powerful testimony of the sufficiency of Christ! I don’t always do well and, truthfully, this past week was rough. I caught myself asking questions again that I have already found satisfying answers to and being discontent with the work ahead of me.

Some days I feel the sanctification a little more than others. I’ve told my husband the feeling reminds me of the sound of a tennis shoe in the washer. You know it’s getting cleaned, but it sounds like something might be broken in there.

I am getting excellent practice in living out the words of Scripture, and they are becoming more and more dear to me. I am learning to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep as I hold the newborn babies of my friends and family and as they weep with me in these years of infertility. I’m practicing trusting in God and His sovereignty, knowing that all things work together for the good of those who love God and who are called according to His purpose.

And I boast in my afflictions knowing that they are producing endurance, and endurance producing proven character, and proven character producing a hope that will not disappoint.