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Archive for the ‘A Time for Suffering.’ Category

17/04/2014
As we reflect on our Saviour’s love for us and the suffering he endured we know what his purpose was and so are more able to understand why he had to suffer; ultimately so that we might be saved.
But what of our own lives? We tend to struggle to understand why God allows us to go through times of suffering. In the bible we are told in Romans 5:3 that ‘suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.’ Romans 8:17 says ‘we as heirs of God & co-heirs with Christ, all share in Christ’s sufferings that we may share in his glory.’ And in Hebrews 12 it talks of how as children of God we are also disciplined, which is a painful process but produces a harvest of righteousness & peace.
I would like to tell you a little of what I’ve learned about God’s purpose through our suffering, as I have come to understand.
In my work as a care assistant I have often questioned God about the suffering that people have to endure, especially in old age. I wanted to know where God was working in their suffering. In the home where I work we had a resident who constantly remained on bed-rest. She could not move around, not even in her bed. She could only move her eyes and her mouth. She was unable to speak or communicate in any manner, but occasionally her eyes would fill with tears or show some expression of sadness. For years she remained in this condition and I thought that this was one of the worst existences you could possibly imagine. I questioned why God would allow her to exist in this way for so long. What purpose could God have for this woman who was living as a prisoner in her own body? I thought about how God must be doing a work in her.
Then one day not too long ago it dawned on me. When I looked at her I felt compassion & would be moved to tears. I also found myself being thankful to God that I could just move about with ease (something so many of us take for granted). This woman, just by existing & yet without saying or doing anything, was having an impact on my heart, mind and soul. She could melt the hardest of hearts, teaching compassion; she could arouse many a question, pointing to a greater purpose than herself; she could move a person to tears while at the same time causing them to appreciate what they had got. Yes God had a purpose for her & although at first glance you might think he had abandoned her & that her life had little or no purpose anymore, yet you would be very much mistaken.
Through our trials and tribulations it is easy to only see our problems & suffering & to lose our focus on God. But God has a plan and a purpose for each and every one of us. Just by existing we can impact others’ lives, even when there is no interaction, just like the resident I’ve mentioned. I find my heart is moved whenever I see a homeless person who is in need of comfort and the basic necessities to live on. Their suffering can motivate me to act, so that I want to reach out and help, which in turn can bring about change in people’s lives.
Through enduring long-suffering such as in illness, we can gain a deeper knowledge of our Lord’s love for us. When I have been in pain and have felt so ill that I couldn’t take it anymore, I would have taken a way out of that pain as many of us do when we take painkillers for a headache. But Jesus not only suffered ‘for us’ but he chose to ‘remain’ there in agony on that cross, enduring the pain & anguish and the mocking of those who had beaten and crucified him. Rather than call on the angels, free himself and reveal his true identity in all his glory, to them. Jesus could have opted out at any time. But in the garden of Gethsemane he resisted that temptation and made his decision to fulfill the purpose of giving himself over as a sacrifice for us. What extraordinary passion our Lord & Saviour expressed when he said to the Father “yet not my will but Yours be done.”

So the next time you find yourself in painful circumstances try to see where God may be using the situation for good. I know it’s not easy but ask yourself:

• What greater purpose could God bring about from this?
• Is there something God would have me learn through this?
• Who around me may have something to learn from this, that God may use it for good? and
• Could this be an opportunity for me to spend more time seeking & pressing into God, depending on him for all my needs & receiving his comfort & healing?

And if you are still lost for answers remember Isaiah 55:8-9 that says ‘His thoughts are not your thoughts & neither are his ways, for his ways are higher than your ways & his thoughts than your thoughts.’

Prayer

Thank you Lord Jesus that not only can you identify with our suffering; and not only are you with us through it all but you took our place and suffered for us that we may live with you ‘eternally free from suffering’. Lord when we go through such trials in life, may we be reminded that you are right there with us and that no matter how bad things may get, You will bring about good out of that situation. Amen!

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It is so easy to get caught up in the negativity of thinking and feeling when things go wrong. It is only natural to focus on the bad stuff and how it is affecting us. However when we do this, when we keep seeing how problems are occuring and people are mistreating us and life doesn’t come up to our expectations and hopes, we can too easily miss God’s blessings for us.

A close family member of mine is feeling sad and mistreated by her son after an argument between them drove them apart. She feels that he should apologise for what he said and then all would be forgiven. While she waits for him to do this time is drifting past and the hurt within her is deepening. She is suffering as though he has died. This grieving process  may not come to a close for some time. She is not being hurt, tested or treated unfairly by God (we can be too quick to blame God for how others treat us), but she is being blessed in her time of grief. God uses the bad situations that we undergo and brings good out of them. The point that she is missing is that in her heartache and trials God is giving her a glimpse of the sufferings of Christ. Or to put it another way Christ knows exactly what she is going through because he too felt rejected, abandoned and wronged by those closest to him, the apostles. I am not saying it isn’t difficult and painful to go through such trials but i think we can miss an important blessing of knowing our Lord better.

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight” (Phil. 1:9)

I too have suffered loss & separation from loved ones, been wronged by them, criticised by them and deeply hurt by them. Whether it is people we know or those we don’t, we all suffer and cause suffering. The important thing to remember is that Jesus knows how you feel and that you are actually getting to know our Saviour in an amazingly intimate way. For some time i have been praying to know God better little realising how painful this could be. As the trials have come and i have turned to God in prayer asking him why these things could be allowed to happen, he has helped me to realise that the blessing is in seeing the identification with Jesus’ own life and his sufferings here on this earth. So that despite the pain and the hurt, i cope, because i am strengthened in the knowledge of God’s love for me and his compassion. I can rest knowing that Jesus overcome this world and it’s tribulations and his peace is with me. As long as i remain focused on him, trusting that he will lead me through and walk with me, knowing that i am not alone in the pain, relying on his strength, giving him all of me then i too will overcome.

“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

We need to identify with Christ’s sufferings for us; stand firm on God’s promises; spend time in the word of God and in prayer and listen. God loves us, we are not alone in our struggles and we really are blessed more than we realise.

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Rom. 5:3-4)

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)

For a deeper understanding of how you may be blessed through your sufferings and trials you might want to look at ‘The Beatitudes’ in Matthew 5.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:3)

You could also check out the story of Paul being in chains for Christ in Philippians 1.

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”  (Phil. 1:6)

 

All quotes above were taken from the Holy Bible – New International Version.

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There is a time…

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV).

This is a time for suffering. No-one knows what goes on in the mind of others, no-one that is except God. We are told to pick up our cross daily:

“…If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NIV).

This means that we are going to suffer in our Christian walk.

Thankyou Jesus that you know what suffering is and that you are with me as i go through these trials. I praise you Lord that you have promised: ” Never will i leave you; never will i forsake you.” Forgive me Lord for my doubts and negative thoughts. Please teach me your ways and strengthen me to endure these testing times. Fill me anew with your Holy Spirit and walk with me, guiding me into all truth. May my heart be filled with love and adoration for you. I pray that my focus will remain on you my Lord. I trust that you are with me and will save me. Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts and your ways are higher than mine. I thank you Jesus that you were pierced for my transgressions, crushed for my iniquities; that the punishment that brought me peace was upon you and that by your wounds i am healed. All praise and glory be to you my Lord. Amen

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

In our times of suffering we ought to focus our attention on the cross and the suffering that Jesus endured for us. This isn’t easy to do when we ourselves are suffering but i will leave you with this passage to contemplate on. May God bless you in every way. Amen.

The Suffering and Glory of the Servant.

“See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him – his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness – so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.”

Praise be to God.

Amen.

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