Tag Archives: suffering

Growing Pains

Aside from being one of my favorite childhood favorite TV shows, growing pains are no joke. Many times God allows us to be in uncomfortable, even painful circumstances to push us to grow. This stretching and strengthening exercise makes up your most emotionally and sometimes physically difficult times in life.

Looking at my parents’ lives I can see how much their marriage grew through their suffering during four years trying to adopt and years of caring for their ailing parents. God used each of these times to improve on their love for one another and for God himself. Seeing their growth gives me comfort in this season of life.

A friend and I were just talking recently about a time of suffering in her life. She described feeling small. I remember each day telling her she was still big, but it was hard for her to see her own strength. Now that a few years have passed she tells me she was always big, but she just couldn’t see it.

I have felt small during the last few weeks. I have thought about giving up, but it’s impossible to give up on life when God is at the center of it. He simply doesn’t stand for quitters of life. Like a parent he doesn’t always give the pouting child his full comforting attention during those moments of feeling small because he knows there’s something more to gain from our suffering and pain. He knows when watching from a distance is more helpful than immediately giving us comfort.

I am up at 4:00 a.m. writing this post because I am very uncomfortable in life right now. I have felt small, sad, angry, confused, even sick from the stress and pain of growing. When God woke me up at 3:30 this morning, even in my discomfort I felt things would be okay because this is just the feeling you get during the strengthening and refining process. I have witnessed many testimonies of the strength that comes from this pain, and it is worth it.

A loving God is not a God that gives us a life full of nothing but easy moments.

Please share your testimony of the growth and strength that came from your suffering.

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Shrinking from Suffering

As Jesus hangs almost lifeless on the cross he finds the strength to say “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” You see, no one likes suffering, including Jesus. It is part of our human nature to shrink away from suffering, but what we forget in the suffering is that we often experience God’s grace and love most when we have experienced such oppression.

Recently a family member of mine underwent what she thought was minor surgery, but what has followed has been more suffering than the symptoms the surgery was supposed to alleviate. Now, I am confident that after the suffering will come great healing, which will completely wipe away the past pain and discomfort, but in this time of pain and unrest it is hard to keep the focus on what is yet to come. There is no doubt in my mind that my family member is going through a rollercoaster of emotions and wondering if she should have bypassed the surgery for a less invasive solution, but there’s no denying that when she was trying to decide on whether to have it or not, God spoke to her in a very clear way.

When she found out the cost of the procedure she realized it would not be feasible, but it seemed as if it was necessary for quality of life so she did what any good Christian should do, and she asked God for His will be done. The next day she received a call from a client offering her a raise and more hours. All of a sudden, impossible seemed Himpossible. The decision was made just like that, but when we are in pain and suffering doubt often grows in our hearts and minds.

Here’s the difference between the thoughts of you and I and the thoughts of Jesus. Jesus said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Often we catch ourselves saying, “There is no god that would allow this pain.” Or, “God has forgotten about me.” Or lastly, “God doesn’t really know what is right for me.” These all point to our disowning God and our total independence. Jesus said, “My God.” “My” being possessive means that Jesus was still clinging to the fact that God was his for the taking, while we often consider him “chop liver” if things don’t go our way. Jesus asks God to reveal to him the reason for this forsaking, while we often say the only explanation is we are forgotten or god is non-existent.

Fortunately my family member has a close relationship with the Father, and she is now quickly recovering, on her way to renewal of faith and renewal of body. I pray that each of us can learn to embrace God and seek understanding in our suffering just as Jesus did. We don’t understand suffering and we feel forsaken, but God brings healing every step of the way whether we acknowledge it or not.

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Overcome the World

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. -John 16:33B

When met with adversity we meet Him. This may sound like I am suggesting to look on the bright side. While I think looking on the bright side can be good to gain a different perspective, Jesus had emotions just like you and I. He felt broken, torn, hurt, offended. It’s not unchristian to feel. We are made to feel emotion. It’s what sets us apart. What I mean is that when we are met with adversity it is an opportunity to give Jesus the driver’s seat. I’m trying not to quote Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel”, but that’s exactly what we should do in trials and suffering. Who knows us and our situation better than the one who knit us in our mother’s womb.

In Genesis 39 Joseph has just been sold to the Ishmaelites by his jealous brothers. They had planned to kill him, but decided they’d make some cash by selling him. The Ishmaelites sold him into slavery to Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard. Joseph must have been feeling hurt and betrayed by his brothers, fear of what would come next, sad that he had been forced to leave his father behind. This was truly a time of adversity for him, but the Bible says , “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man…” Did I read that right?!? Joseph who was almost murdered by his jealous brothers, sold into slavery, and now he has become successful? But this is not where the struggle ends. Just as in our own lives, because we fight through one storm does not mean there isn’t another on the horizon.

Joseph had become quite successful working under Potiphar until his wife tried to seduce him. When he realized her proposition he quickly fled, but she snatched his cloak from his back. Seeing this as evidence and an opportunity for revenge on Joseph she went to her husband to accuse his servant of assault, “See, here is his cloak he left behind.” Believing his wife’s accusation Potiphar quickly had Joseph detained. Once again, betrayed and let down, Joseph finds God’s favor. His good behavior and God’s spirit upon him earn him the position of watching over all the other prisoners, an assistant to the chief jailer. Over two years later through a series of unlikely events Joseph is asked to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. The dream’s interpretation indicated a famine was coming. Impressed with Joseph’s discernment Pharaoh promotes Joseph from prisoner to his personal assistant and head of all his servants and business of his house.

Later Joseph gained even more respect from Pharaoh and God continued to show him favor, even reconciling his relationship with his family and at last reuniting them. No mountain is too big or too small for God to overcome. The number of scriptures on overcoming adversity is overwhelming. If you don’t believe me reflect on your past. Think of all the times you have overcome. Did you really overcome with your own strength or was there something, someone supernatural carrying you through it.

If you are feeling stuck in struggle, suffering, sorrow take a moment to meditate on this, my favorite Psalm:

Psalm 91 (NRSV)

You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence; he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day, or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday.A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot. Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When  they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.