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I'm Suffering

The Lord has not despised or been disgusted with the plight of the oppressed one. He has not hidden his face from that person. The Lord heard when that oppressed person cried out to him for help. -- Psalm 22:24

When we feel imprisoned, we ask, Where is God?

Someone once said, “Life is pain. The sharper, the more evidence of life.”

God healsOne night, Carol was purging for the third time in one hour. All of a sudden, she felt a piercing, stinging sensation in her throat and she began gagging. She looked down in the toilet bowl and witnessed a puddle of blood. It’s okay, she thought, I’ve bled before (denial). But the blood kept coming. What am I going to do? Who can I tell? Nobody knows my horrible, shameful secret. So she didn’t tell anyone. For the next two days, Carol suffered and existed in agony. On the third day, she checked into the emergency room. When I woke up, the doctor told me I had a very large ulcer in my throat that was on the verge of rupturing, which could lead to death. This is a picture of both physical and emotional suffering. We each have our own story. Why does this all-powerful God allow us to suffer so, especially if He is a loving God? The Bible doesn’t spell out all of His reasons: “How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his methods!” (Romans 11:33, TLB). But the Bible does give us insights into how He uses troubles for good.

We all have pain in our lives. Not necessarily illness, but deep, emotional pain caused by those who have hurt us. Loss causes pain, relationships cause pain, failure causes pain, and giving up on unrealistic goals causes pain. Don’t we retreat at the first sign of trouble or misery? We’ve given up all hope of overcoming and learning from the experience. So we turn to food and substances to soothe the pain.

What can God do about it? What can’t God do? is a better question. Our problems are so close to us and seem so much bigger than God. When life’s problems loom over us, we tend to lose our sense of perspective, and God fades into the background. But in some mysterious way known only to God, we grow when our hearts are broken.
Suffering isn’t pleasant but it’s necessary. God doesn’t cause our suffering but uses it. The enemy seems so busy in our matters that it’s hard to trace the hand of God in it. But His hand is in it.

Did you know that pain broadens our base of experience and can make us stronger (or weaker)? The apostle Paul taught that suffering is an essential course in God’s curriculum for all believers. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). We become less judgmental, self-righteous, and less convinced that our way is right if we allow ourselves to express and feel pain. We become more compassionate in the end.

God wants believers to celebrate in their difficulties, to continue to put their hope and trust in Him, and grow stronger in spite of their experiences.

Peter Kreeft, author of "Making Sense Out of Suffering" uses this analogy ~ Imagine a bear in a trap and a hunter who, out of sympathy, wants to liberate the bear. He tried to win the bear's confidence, but he can't do it, so he has to shoot the bear full of tranquilizer drugs. The bear, however, thinks this is an attack and that the hunter is trying to kill him. The bear doesn't realize that this is being done out of compassion.

Then, in order to get the bear out of the trap, the hunter has to push him further into the trap to release the tension on the spring. If the bear were semiconscious at the point, he would be even more convinced that the hunter was his enemy who was out to cause him suffering and pain. But the bear would be wrong. He reached this incorrect conclusion because he's not a human.

I believe God does the same to us sometimes, and we can't comprehend why he does it any more than the bear can understand the motivations of the hunter. As the bear could have trusted the hunter, so we can trust God.

Suffering contains at least the opportunity for good, but not everyone learns and benefits from suffering - that's where free will comes in.

Lord, at times I feel that I simply can't take any more. I feel so very weak.
Yet You promise that Your grace is sufficient for me and that
Your strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
Help me walk in Your grace and Your strength today.
Thank you Father, by Your grace I can go on. In Jesus name, Amen

A very long time ago, in the 1600s, Francis de Sales wrote words of wise counsel for women of every generation:

Do not look forward to the changes of this life in fear; rather look to them with full hope that, as they rise, God will deliver you out of them. He has kept you hitherto, hold fast to His dear hand, and He will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand, He will bear you in His arms….The same everlasting Father who cares for you today, will take care of you tomorrow, and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.

The Truth Is ~

  • God is good ~ whether we feel like He is good or not
  • God loves you ~ whether you feel loved or not
  • Through faith in Jesus' shed blood on our behalf we are forgiven ~ whether we feel forgiven or not
  • God will never leave us or forsake us, He is with us all the time ~ even when we feel alone an forsaken
  • Due to our fallen nature our feelings often have very little to do with reality. When we allow them to be tied to our circumstances -- which are always changing -- rather than to the unchangeable realities of God and His Truth, our emotions are prone to fluctuate
  • We can choose to cling to God's Truth, or we can choose to buy into Satan's lies ~ God's Truth is unchangeable and irrefutable
  • Regardless of what our emotions are, by God's grace we can choose to fix our minds on Him and to 'trust and obey' ~ When we do, we will experience His peace and the grace to be faithful, even though our circumstances may not change

Father, sometimes it's so hard to endure
when it seems like nothing is changing my circumstances.
Help me wait for Your timing knowing that you will act at the right time.
Until then, teach me to trust, obey, hope and persevere.
Be glorified in my life Lord. In Jesus name. Amen

Books On The Topic

  1. Peter Kreeft, "Making Sense Out of Suffering"
  2. Philip Yancey, "Where Is God When It Hurts"
  3. Joni Eareckson Tada and Steven Estes, "When God Weeps"
  4. Luis Palau, "Where is God When Bad Things Happen"
  5. Gerald L. Sittser, "A Grace Disguised - How the Soul Grows Through Loss"
  6. Only God Can Heal the Wounded Heart, by Ed Bulkey
  7. A Path Through Suffering: Discovering the Relationship Between God's Mercy and Our Pain, by Elisabeth Elliot
  8. Trusting God Even When Life Hurts, by Jerry Bridges
  9. When God Doesn't Make Sense, by Dr. James Dobson

"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us" -- Romans 8:16-18


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