The final topic in this book is “Transfiguration.” Elisabeth said she chose this word instead of “transformation”, although they are so similar. Both words indicate a change. Both, for Christians, mean change that causes us to be conformed to the image is Christ (Romans 8:29). She thinks “transfiguration” “implies an aspect of glory that is not always implied with the word transformation.” I’d really not ever thought about that before.
I love this image of a boy on a ladder because it made me think of seeking to grow closer to Christ’s image as we journey through life. And in particular, letting our suffering make us moldable in Christ’s hands so we can reflect His glory.
Her examples of this “transfiguration” are so compelling, including Fanny Crosby’s story of blindness, caused accidentally by a doctor trying to heal her inflammation when she was nine. Instead of complaining throughout her life, she wrote over 8000 hymns…many you would recognized if you’ve been in church a while. What a blessing she has been to so many because she chose to let God “transfigure” her heart to become a blessing.
Honestly, I am not sure I would’ve been near as willing as Fanny to move from that loss to “conforming to Christ’s suffering” as we see reflected in Paul’s words in Philippians:
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11
I want to claim this truth when I suffer. But it’s so hard, isn’t it? As Elisabeth says, “life comes out of death” as a seed has to die to produce new life. Paul understood this so he was able to sing while cold, hungry, and lonely in prison chains.
One of my favorite quotes from this chapter I posted on social media:
Have you learned this truth? I have, but when a new crisis hits, I often have to fight to get there. It takes grief and honesty to be able to agree. It takes standing on the truth of Christ to find joy.
Are you in a situation right now that seems far from joy? Share your pain with someone. Pray for the Holy Spirit to help you move from pain to faith in the truth that God will bring you through it. When He does, be willing to share your story of healing with someone in pain. And, if you don’t have Suffering is Never for Nothing, get it!
Read part 3.