How do I write something about obscurity and manage to be obscure if I think anyone else would benefit from reading it? It’s hard to share it and hide it at the same time. I will reckon writing about this subject and sharing it with the admittance upfront that I need to apply this daily and most of this post is thoughts from, paraphrases of, or straight up quotes from chapter 7 of the book “Embracing Obscurity”, authored anonymously.
Have you ever had to suffer for someone else’s sake? Maybe more than one person and perhaps many occasions or daily? Are you willing if that’s the best way to love them? When we suffer, the life of Jesus is seen more clearly in us. (2 Cor. 4:10)When we walk in the full comprehension of how much we have been forgiven on the cross, we are more free to love deeply even if it’s hard. (Luke 7:47)
…”those who are the recipients of the benefits of suffering should be the first in line to suffer for others. Our love for and devotion to Christ, coupled with our desire to follow His example, should compel us to suffer on others’ behalves with enthusiasm – with gusto.” I don’t know about you, but I’m not usually very enthusiastic about suffering myself, let alone for someone else and especially if they have hurt me. But the little bit of it I have done, provides a new compassion for me and a different outlook. This reminds me of one of my favorite sayings: “The fragrance always remains in the hand that gives the rose.”
Arthur “Anonymous” goes on to give examples of ‘little sufferings’ such as a guy who works in a job he hates or is less than enthusiastic about. Rather than climbing the corporate ladder, he perseveres, so that he can be more transformed and enabled to give Christ’s love – showing a wealth of compassion to coworkers, bosses, or others who can relate. Or a person who feels isolated because of his Christian walk or stands, but avoids self-pity over the denial of what he wants (namely, more friends) so that he can embrace the lessons of loneliness and obscurity, cling to the cross, and reach out to others for His sake. Or the girl who wrestles with “What is wrong with me?”, when single, or barren, or ostracized, or not Hollywood’s definition of beautiful, or….Instead of self-pity or desperate or drastic measures, she can allow these “issues” to force her into the arms of Christ, finding her true significance in her Savior.
” Anonymous” points out a startling trend in Christian thinking that he calls the ‘Joseph Principle’….”and it goes like this: If I am suffering in obscurity today, God must be preparing me for something greater, better, or more prominent later in life.” It’s a spin off from Romans 8:28 and even finds some support there, and also with some Bible characters with whom God chose to “bring up” in the end, and of course in media such as news stories, books, music and movies. Don’t we love to see the underdog win in the end after suffering. Don’t we love to think of our own better outcome “over the rainbow”? We are charmed by favoritism when it smiles on us and basque in it’s affection, whether at home, at church at work or whatever. But we frown and whine when it wanes, which it eventually does. No one stays in the spotlight forever and wise leaders learn to squelch their favoritism, anyway. What we are slow to get, is that often God chooses to “bring us up” in matters more relating to the heart and character, such as contentment, suffering, perseverance, example and behind the scene roles.
“Yes, God works all – even our suffering – for our good, but the end result may well look different than you had hoped. Will you still trust God if your “good” is to go on embracing obscurity – living in simplicity and devotion to Him – your entire life? What if your “good” is to understand the deepest depths of suffering so that you have more to give to others who walk through dark times? Would you mind if your “good” is only a greater understanding of the suffering Jesus went through on your behalf and mine? What if your “good” is soley to make His name great?”
“All of God’s ways are good and true. Although His plans may not look like ours, we can trust that God is in fact ‘for us’. Embracing obscurity allows us to relinquish our dreams for and to Him – to His timing and His ways. We prefer Him to the dream. We don’t push our dream into being.”
Gary Thomas said, “If we are seeking glory, honor, and immortality before God, daily and quiet persistence, faithfulness and obedience is the road to get there. Anonymous sufferings are actually the best kind. Jesus tells us – otherwise, others might recognize us and compliment us and that, alone, will be our reward.”