The subject of suffering has come up multiple times this week. I feel this is something the Lord wants me to process and what better place than here, on my blog? Suffering. What is it? Is it necessary? Why/Why not? What good could possibly come from pain? What do we do with our pain–specifically, how are we, as God’s treasured, redeemed children, to respond to suffering? How do we bring glory to God through our trials?
According to dictionary.com “suffer” is defined as “to undergo or feel pain or distress”; “to sustain injury, disadvantage, or loss”; or “to endure pain, disability, death, etc., patiently or willingly”.
Defined from personal experience, suffering is any painful trial that brings me to the end of myself, my coping skills, and my own reserves. My list of examples would include loss of home and property, cancer, death, financial stress, rebellious children, weight gain, physical, emotional, or spiritual injury, persecutions, unemployment…the list could go on and on.
People suffer for different reasons; we know that we suffer the consequences of our own personal choices (i.e. if I choose to eat junk and not exercise, I’m going to gain weight and feel yucky), and sometimes, we suffer from the bad choices of others (i.e. rebellious children who know better, but choose to disregard wisdom, and embrace folly…this causes many a parent to suffer, sometimes to the point of suffering the loss of a wayward child), but often bad things happen to good people who have done nothing wrong (i.e. Job). Why would a good person suffer, while the wicked prosper? This is an age-old question, asked by the best of scholars, philosophers, and saints: Job (Job 21), King David (Psalm 73), Solomon (Ecclesiastes 4, 7), to name a few, all wondered at the sovereignty of God that would allow the righteous to suffer, and the unrighteous to prosper.
And, don’t we all ask this question at one time or another? We don’t know WHY we suffer. We can’t wrap our heads around why God allows the things He does, and this is not a surprise to Him, because He tells us in Isaiah 55
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
When I was caring for my terminally ill parents, my Momma and I had some sweet, deep conversations about God’s will. I told her at one point, “this is not the way I would have written this story“, to which she wisely replied “Well, honey, you are not the Author.” Momma knew her Lord, and she knew His word, and I believe He gave her a special, personal glimpse into His perfect will that allowed such a profound word to be spoken in due season.
As I look at the subject of suffering, it becomes clear to me that my thoughts are going to take up way more than just one blog post. This looks like a good place to stop. TBC…
Many people focus on the fact that Jesus died, was buried, and on the third day rose again. Not so many emphasize that He “*suffered*, died, and was buried”. To suffer is the human experience of being separated from God; to suffer as a Christian is to be united to Christ as He carried His cross, stopping at times to be comforted, helped, spat upon, or fall completely. As we approach Lent, remember that the story of a Christian life was already written by Christ’s passion. All of us walk the stations of the cross behind Him, and at the peak of our suffering must become one of the two people crucified with Him. Either we ridicule the suffering, or embrace it and beg to be remembered when the suffering King comes in glory.
It’s like you’re reading my mind, Josh. These are some of the thoughts that are going into later blog posts.
Thanks for stopping in…come back again ♥
The way we all suffer in this world – is one of the hardest things for me to understand about my faith. I do think I have made strides to understanding and accepting that this is simply part of our time here on earth and realize sometimes the greatest gifts come from our sufferings. Jesus suffering on the cross allowed for the forgiveness of sins across time and continents, that’s pretty remarkable.
Resigning ourselves to and actually embracing the opportunity to grow and witness through our sufferings is one of the secrets to suffering well, I think. I have a lot of thoughts rattling around about this, but haven’t been able to really articulate them yet. Thank you for your comment, I think you’re right, there are gifts that are available to us in the sufferings we endure well.
When going through trials and all that stuff, I like to remember James 1:2-4 “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
It’s just a reminder that the suffering we go through will only build us up to be “Okay” with the loss of earthly things. We need to remember that everything here on earth will never compare to the things in heaven and in Gods presence. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen,since what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal.” This verse can be looked at as a reminder that what we have is temporary and nothing we have is eternal. They are God’s and one day he will be ready for them to be placed in the care of somebody else. We need to be careful not to get attached to the things of the earth. Because one day they will not be in our care anymore. Sometimes God takes you out of one place to begin another learning experience for you, and whoever is put in the place you were.
It all comes back to trusting that God has his story perfectly written with perfect grammar, perfect spelling, and tons of interesting ideas.
Just my thoughts and by no means I’m no Solomon, so I may be off track, but this is what my fingers typed.
Good thoughts, Charity. Those are some of the same verses that have been rattling around in my own head. Don’t stop thinking, and learning and sharing. This is how we grow. Love you so much, and I do so appreciate your participation here!
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