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Wednesday
Feb122014

Suffering – and how to come alongside of those who do!

 

This is not a blog with a neat, tidy conclusion – these are thoughts from my heart to yours and I strongly encourage you to grapple with the subject on your own.  Many people in your life are suffering in some form or other – where is God in the midst of it?

 

Philip Yancey wrote a book which is still a classic – “Where is God When it Hurts” --- a key question for all of us, isn’t it?  Yancey goes on to say, “There is something unique about having only God to lean on.  Suffering, the great equalizer, brings us to a point where we may realize our urgent need for redemption.  Those who suffer rest their security not on things, which often cannot be enjoyed and may soon be taken away, but rather on people.”


Joni Eareckson Tada has said … “I know firsthand that pain and paralysis sometimes seem to push away the presence of God.”

 

I have been giving a lot of thought to suffering lately – particularly in light of two women I’ve been talking with, both have expressed “tickedness” at God. Why doesn’t He DOOOOOO something for me, with all I’m going through and for others who are hurting.  There is so much suffering in this world over which others have no control – death, loss, illness, abuse, hatred, sex trafficking, hardship.

 

I admit that I can’t grasp God’s plans – or thoughts – or reasoning.  In fact, I was looking up a couple of verses related to our thoughts -  Psalms 94:11 – “The Lord knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile.”  And Isaiah 55:8 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  And I think to myself – what does that mean anyway?  Does it mean I can’t comprehend; I’m not on his wave length; I’m too sinful to have righteous thoughts --- probably all of the above. 

 

Yet He certainly understands us, our thoughts, our suffering first-hand…”He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering, like one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” – Isaiah 53:3.  So while we can’t discern the thoughts and mind of God, he definitely understands our minds and thoughts and he understands our suffering.  Somehow when we suffer, we are participating in the sufferings of Christ.  I have never really understood that concept --- somehow it’s tied in to I Peter 2:20-21, “But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it?  But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.  To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps.”… “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.  Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

 

And from Romans 8:17-18, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.  I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

 

He gets it – He really, really gets it.  In fact, in Hebrews we are told, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.”

 

So then, what might be the antidote for the pain and suffering sometimes ‘pushing away the presence of God’ as Joni Eareckson Tada describes?  We must look at truth!  

 

Fact:  God has promised never to leave us, never to forsake us!

Fact:  We are suffering.

Fact:  (Most often) If our pain has pushed God away, it is in our perception and most likely because of our anger.

Fact:  We need to come to grips with the source of our anger.

Fact:  Once we identify the source of our anger, we need to recognize that anger is a part of grief.

Fact:  We need to identify specifically what it is that we are grieving.

Fact:  We need to realize that grief is a process rather than an event and takes as long as it takes.

Fact:  We need to have someone in our life we can talk with about our grief and our anger.

 

Suffering takes many forms and has multiple roots.  I find that it can be important to ask God to help identify the root of the anger and the grief.  And in identifying we sometimes are able to better understand and accept God’s comfort, His care, His provision and His love. 

 

Grapple on with the pain of suffering – and remember that “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  Psalms 34:18

 

 

 

Reader Comments (1)

Thank you for these thoughts today, Barb. The facts, the truth, you listed at the end of your blog were perfect to hear today. Praying tonight for a co-worker whose daughter's death is the source of deep suffering in her heart and mind. In the facts you listed above I read, "Suffering is; it just is." "Anger is a part of grief." "Grief is a process; it takes as long as it takes." On the road together . . .

July 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDorothy

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