2002-09-27 - Suffering, Part 2
Encore from 1998-01-09
Last week, we were reminded that we should expect hard times, that we can learn from suffering and that we are to be thankful even in the midst of it. How else should we deal with suffering?
We are to trust God to work good out of our trials -- He can and will bring glory to Himself and also work for our good, in our suffering:
(Rom 8:28 NLT) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
As those of you who have read my testimony on the website know, if not for my suffering of severe chronic pain a decade or so ago, I wouldn't be the Christian I am today. NOT that I have arrived, by any means! But it spurred growth in me. It forced me to turn closer to God; there was no other recourse. Before that happened, I never could understand when people would go through something tragic, and then say something like "it's the best thing that ever happened to me." I never thought I would feel that way. But now I can honestly say, I am grateful for that time. I was a Christian, yes, read the Bible every day, yes. But this pushed me into deeper water spiritually -- out of the kiddie pool. It forced me to depend more on God and less on Jan.
Also, we are to use our suffering to minister to others.
(2 Cor 1:3-4 NNAS) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Before we truly suffer ourselves, we don't really understand what others are going through; we can't truly empathize as well unless we have had hard times ourselves.
Some of us have an erroneous idea that is really sad - that when we suffer we should not express our deepest hearts about that suffering. As the song ("What a Friend We Have in Jesus") says "Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear" when we don't pour our hearts to God, as we are invited to do in Psalms 62:8. The Bible contains a good number of examples of expressing emotions. Neither David the Psalmist nor Jesus minced words:
(Psa 13:1 NNAS) How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?
God wants us to bring our suffering to Him. Christ took our suffering to the cross.
(1 Pet 5:7 NNAS) Casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
Dear Father, help us deal with our suffering as You want us to. Help us remain open to having our suffering used for Your purposes. In Jesus' name, amen.