Solzhenitsyn described a spiritual illumination that came to him while languishing in a dank, dark stinking prison cell. What is particularly noteworthy is that despite his miserable circumstances, Solzhenitsyn began to comprehend the transforming liberty of the children of God. In the midst of his appalling situation, he experienced salvation and joy!
I, too, have experienced God's illumination and joy even in the midst of degenerative and disabling multiple sclerosis spanning more than thirty years, then cancer.
Suffering has the concealed power to draw the sufferer toward Christ (if the sufferer allows it). Christ grants a special grace that transcends suffering (if the sufferer allows it). Tears of sorrow and tears of joy can flow together. With Christ, the sufferer can transcend their anguish to discover a glorious transforming liberty of the children of God, regardless of their circumstances or wretched prospects for their future on earth.
I came across an address of early Church Father Cyril of Alexandria (378-444). In it, he commented on Scripture passage above:
"Does this not show that the Spirit changes those in whom he comes to dwell and alters the whole pattern of their lives? With the Spirit within them it is quite natural for people who have been absorbed by the things of this world to become entirely other-worldly in outlook ... ."
Saint Cyril went on to speak about how the Spirit gives cowards courage. He stated that this was obviously what happened to the disciples. The Spirit transformed cowardly men — who earlier scattered and hid when Jesus was arrested — into men of courage and resolve for Christ. They faced trials, persecutions and torture. All but John were martyred.
From then until now, millions of Christians fortified
|Christians martyred by ISIS|
All who turn to the Lord in faith will be transformed.
We will gaze with unveiled faces at the glory of God and will be transformed to the same glory. My puny mind fails to understand the reality that awaits us—the features and magnitude of that transformation. His truth is still partly veiled, I still see as though in a mirror dimly. Now I see only in part, but I will see Him face to face. I will know just as I am known. (See 1Corinthians 13.12 & 1 John 3.2.)
It will be the same for all who turn to the Lord.