Great faith is demonstrated more in what we are willing to suffer for Christ than in what we are willing to do for Him.
Paul’s worth to the church was not nearly as much in his achievements as in this: he suffered the loss of all things. We, on the other hand, can become so busy trying to do more, as though doing will prove our worth to others, or perhaps to ourselves, that sometimes we simply do too much with little or no effectiveness and exercise little or no faith in the process.
Simply put, faith shows its mettle, shows what it is really made of, not in achievement, but in how one responds to suffering. Others are not nearly as interested in how well we handle a task as in how well we handle a catastrophe. I have never ministered to others by my impressive achievements. On the contrary, our achievements may serve to discourage rather than to encourage others and render others as feeling “less than.” However, I have always been amazed at how quickly God’s ministers of comfort descend over others when I am willing to be transparent about my own weaknesses, disappointments, failings, and, yes, raw fears.
This obsession, this addiction, with doing and achieving is an especially harmful contagion among women in the Twenty-first Century. Compelling, consuming, and imposing decisions, which complicate and compromise our lives, are not what we bargained for, but are what can accompany being Superwoman. There is a price for immortality. Life becomes a bad dream where we are the featured novelty act on The Ed Sullivan Show, and someone keeps tossing us more and more plates to spin.
Faith, however, steps away from the spotlight. It refuses to spin out of control. It defies the laws of nature by refusing to be pushed to the outer rim of the merry-go-round, and instead, resolutely, intentionally, and deliberately targets the center of the wheel where there is a place of perfect peace. Jesus spoke to Martha of that place when he said, “Martha, Martha. Thou art careful and troubled about many things, but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.” ( John 10:41-42) That good part for Mary, as we read elsewhere in the Gospels, was sitting at Jesus’ feet. In that most treasured of Psalms, Psalm 91, David called it “the secret place of the most High.”
And so I begin this blog, a journal, a commitment rather, of lessons learned in the secret place.