Things People Don't Like to Talk About: Suffering
For my next couple blogs I’m going to cover some topics that people don’t like to talk about. As I was praying was to write about, suffering came to mind.
No one likes suffering (obviously). We get mad at it (rightfully so). If there’s a chance we’re going to suffer for something, our natural instinct is to run away. We are inclined to flee from anything that causes us discomfort or makes us lose our sense of security. But, whether you like it or not, every one of us is going to “suffer” thru something in life. One example is loss. Every one of us will lose our loved ones one day. That is a fact whether you like it or not. Maybe you already have lost a loved one and you feel as though you are suffering right now. Or maybe, you’re going thru financial problems, job loss, or health problems. The list goes on and on. This blog is by no means a way of telling you to “buck up and get over it”. Instead, I felt compelled to share with you what the bible says in regards to suffering. This will be mainly geared towards Christ followers, but if you’re not a follower of Jesus my heart for you is that you will discover truth within these words- that God, the lover of your soul, will speak to you directly into your current life situation.
1. Jesus suffered.
I find it interesting when Christians go to God with all of their requests on making everything better in their life. Have I done that? Of course. I’ve had multiple moments in my life while following Him that I begged Him to make all my struggles go away. While doing this, we forget that the One we are praying to walked thru His own path of suffering. Jesus suffered thru the ultimate penalty of death on a cross. He embraced what God called Him to. Isaiah 53:10a says; “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer.” Just read thru that slowly… “It was the Lords WILL to crush Him…” Whaaaaat?
Sounds crazy. But if Jesus never suffered the way God wanted to Him to, you and I would not be here right now talking about what it means to follow Jesus. God’s purpose for Jesus’ crucifixion was greater than we could have ever known. If Jesus suffered for a purpose, perhaps your suffering could be for a purpose as well?
2. He won’t leave us.
When suffering strikes, we naturally become short-sighted. We automatically assume God has abandoned us. Many people don’t believe in God simply because there is so much evil and suffering in the world. If we take this road of belief, then we are throwing out the whole bible and what it says.
Deuteronomy 31:8 says; “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.”
This is a promise all throughout the bible, the Lord will NEVER leave us nor forsake us. God is the ultimate promise keeper. He doesn’t break His promises. He stand firms in what He says because He cannot lie. Lying is in complete contradiction of His nature. So no matter who you are or what you are or will suffer through, He promises, “I will NEVER leave you- ever.”
When suffering strikes, God is just as present with us in the bad times as He is in the good. If we turn to Him, He will give us the eyes of faith to believe and see Him even if our world is crashing down around us.
3. Suffering can be used for a purpose.
Earlier I said, “If Jesus suffered for a purpose, perhaps your suffering could be for a purpose as well?”
God is a God of purpose. Due to His sovereignty He uses all things for His kingdom. So what if, whatever heart-ache you are walking through right now, could be used to bless you or someone else in the end? God is love. So His motives and intentions are all out of love for His creation.
What if your suffering…
- Will be used to draw you closer to Him?
- Will be used to minister to someone else?
- Will be used to inspire you to write a book, start a business or a non-profit to bring hope to the hopeless?
- Will be used so you will treat every day like it’s your last, instead of wasting your time on meaningless things?
- Will be used to show the world unity and love?
This is short list of possibilities. But we serve a God of ENDLESS possibilities. We cannot be so narrow-minded when following Him. This is another reason why people don’t follow Jesus- they can’t understand Him. Because we can’t understand Him, we refuse to trust in Him. But why look at this in a negative view? It can actually be exciting to serve a God that you can’t put your finger on. Yes, there are moments of nervousness and possibly fear, but following Jesus is an adventure of a lifetime. It’s the greatest adventure that never ends.
1 Peter 4:1 says;
"Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God."
Suffering puts things into perspective. When we or someone close to us is walking the path of suffering, it really does remind you of what is most important in life.
Wherever life takes you, my prayer is that when suffering strikes, you would embrace the God who is right there in the midst of it. Remember, He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is a God that “works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” There is always hope to hold onto no matter what you walk through- that Jesus will one day return to make all things new. He will one day judge the living and the dead. He will one day return in all His glory and lead His faithful followers into heavenly bliss forever. Even if we can’t see it, He has a plan. He’s got the whole world in His hands.
[There is so much more to be said about suffering, so in the future I will re-visit this topic. While writing this, I learned that the International Day to Pray for the Persecuted Church is November 5th, 2017. Please take a moment to view the video below. If you are a Christian, we have thousands of brothers and sisters who are being persecuted for their faith in Christ daily- they are being murdered, tortured, forced to flee their homes, plus more. Join me in praying for them, as well as asking God if there is a tangible step you can take to help the persecuted church.]