by Rhonda Dragomir @RhondaDragomir
God called my name one Sunday during worship in what seemed an audible voice. I’ve only heard him speak so clearly a few times in my life, so he certainly had my attention. As I meditated and prayed the rest of the day, I received a crucial message which started my journey to healing.
Three years before that day, my soul had received a gaping wound. After twenty-three years of fruitful service in one local church, a web of powerful lies demolished my husband’s ministry. Repeated efforts at reconciliation had failed. Some people who once dearly loved us cut us off. Although we could prove my husband’s innocence, we never received a hearing.
Forced to move, my husband was stripped of his ministerial credentials. Some of our friends and colleagues shunned us. Shame and reproach stalked us like wolves after a herd of sheep. The false rumors broke our hearts because we deeply loved the church people and knew they were hurting, too. They believed we had betrayed them, and they shared our agony.
Grief and loneliness surfaced in my heart, bringing their companions—anger, bitterness, and the desire for revenge against the perpetrator of the lie. My predicament seemed hopeless.
The day God called my name, I spent the following hours seeking him in prayer and meditation. The answer came to me through this verse: “That I may know [Jesus], and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10 KJV).
Jesus was rejected by his own (John 1:11). The congregation of our church felt like our own family. Jesus was driven out of his home town by those who sought His destruction (Luke 14:4-30). We were forced to pack in a hurry and depart our home of 23 years in a short span of three weeks. Jesus was subjected to cruel lies, betrayed by a dear friend, and crucified even though he was innocent. I had not died physically, but spiritually and emotionally, I felt dead.
However, my suffering had a redemptive purpose: Christ invited me to fellowship with him more intimately. I prayed, “Jesus, now I understand on some level how you felt. I’m so sorry.” Jesus endured pain for the sake of my redemption and the salvation of the whole world. It was hard to focus on the sins committed against me when I acknowledged that my personal sins had made Jesus so familiar with suffering.
God redeemed my anguish and used it to draw me closer to Jesus. Little by little, I repented of anger and bitterness, forgave those who had wronged us, and learned how to be thankful for my journey. When the pain surfaces—and it does from time to time—I praise God for allowing me to understand in a small way the magnificent sacrifice Jesus made for me. My scars pale in significance when compared to the joy of knowing him.
I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things… I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings… Philippians 3:8b, 10 NIV
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: An avid reader and writer, Rhonda Dragomir lives in the heart of idyllic horse country in central Kentucky. Her degree in Social Work from Asbury University prepared her for more than forty years of ministry as a pastor’s wife.
Rhonda writes both fiction and nonfiction, and she was named 2019 Writer of the Year by Serious Writer, Inc. Learn more about Rhonda on her website: www.rhondadragomir.com.
Join the conversation: Has suffering helped you to know Jesus better?