By Mary Lindow
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SUFFERING AND SORROW ARE A PART OF LIFE.
Knowing this, however, doesn't make it any easier to cope when you find yourself in the midst of the deepest, darkest trials of faith, and mentally anguish and strain.
Don't you wish Christianity could make you exempt from suffering? That would be great, but as most of us have learned, following our faith doesn't give us a free ride. We catch as much trouble as unbelievers—often more.
The difference, of course, is that we can turn to Jesus when things go wrong. Unbelievers might argue that we're only turning to our imagination, but we know better.
At some time in your life, however, suffering will hit you so hard that you won’t be able to do any of those things, and that dark time will probably visit you more than once.
“Even in darkness, light dawns for the upright,
for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.”
WE ALL WANT THINGS WE DON'T GET.
Maybe it's a person you're sure would make a perfect spouse, and the relationship crumbles apart. Maybe it's a better job or promotion, and you don't make the cut.
Or it might be a goal you poured your time and energy into, and it doesn't come to pass or others sabotage it all.
All of us have prayed for the recovery of loved ones who were ill, but they died anyway.
It takes real spiritual maturity to stay faithful when things go wrong, but severing our relationship with God punishes us, not him.
Its self-destructive behavior that can put us on the path to a miserable life. The parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke15:11-32) teaches us that God always wants us to come back to him.
Whether your problem is discouragement, illness or aging, sometimes all you have left is Jesus. When you're angry and bitter, you can still cling to Jesus in the midst of your tears.
You can grab onto him and refuse to let go until he brings you through it. You'll find, to your surprise that he holds on to you even tighter than you hold on to him.
JESUS UNDERSTANDS SORROW.
He knows about being hurt. He remembers the terrible moment on the cross when his Father was forced to abandon him, because he was filthyfrom taking on our sins. Jesus won't let you go.’
And as you age and start down the path from this life to the next, Jesus will take your hand to guide you. He appreciates all that you have done for him through the years, but what he has always wanted most is your love.
So there you are in the middle of one of life's train-wrecks, dazed, wounded, wondering what shoe-or bomb-will be dropping next, and up walks Job's comforters.
We all remember Job from the Bible. A rich, powerful man, a great father and good in every way was Job. Then, in a series of overlapping upheavals, he lost everything and everybody except his wife-who turned out to be a whole lot less than sympathetic in her changed status.
Battered Job ends up sitting alone on a pile of dirt, scratching his boil-covered body with some broken pottery.
WE CAN IDENTIFY WITH POOR JOB.
Life drags us through some tough times of loss that make us feel every bit like Job. Caught in a vortex of pain, and wondering if we'll ever make it to safety. And, boy, do we recognize Job's so-called friends who showed up to by all accounts offer support and comfort.
As they sat with Job in his misery, they took turns playing a self-centered, self-righteous, can-you-top-this game of knowing for certain that every bit of Job ‘s disaster had to be his own fault or a lack of trust in God.
They weren't sure how or why because Job seemed so decent, but deep down, they insisted, he just couldn't be all he pretended to be.
THIS IS FAMILIAR TERRITORY.
You get fired, and friends smirk knowingly when you try to explain the political nature of the event. Your child gets into difficulty-well; you know the kind of comfort you'll get from friends about that. (It probably started sometime during potty training.)
Yet others try to “help” you with what I call “prayer lecturing.” While praying “for and with you” they let you (and God) know just how lucky you should be to even have running water, had a meal that day and more! Not really comforting in any way, and very very short on compassion.
Yet, from the story, it's clear that Job was completely innocent. Dreadful things do happen to completely innocent people, good people.
Because of their opinion of Job's guilt, history has bestowed his friends-(and their current replicas) - the label, "Job's comforters." So-called friends who add to a suffering person's anguish by piling on false charges of blame and guilt and harsh reprimand for daring to show sadness or agony.
You may never have met anybody like Job, but you've met his comforters on more than one occasion. They seem to be everywhere.
WE CAN CHARGE SOME OF IT OFF TO JEALOUSY.
Job had everything a person could dream of wanting-and then some, so jealousy was never more than a stone's throw away. The green-eyed monster is a little more subtle with people living everyday, typical lives,but jealousy doesn't need much ground to take root and grow with vigor.
WE DON’T WANT TO ADMIT BAD THINGS MAY HAPPEN TO US!
If bad things happen to people who don't deserve them, they could happen to anybody, including me. If I don't want bad things to happen to me, (who does?), I have to persuade myself and everybody around me that the victim's actions caused the problem. If blame can be assigned, then I'll be safe as long as I'm good.
In other words, if I can claim that the cause of your problem is something you do that I don't do, then what happened to you can't happen to me.
There is, of course, no logic to this, but it brings some shaky comfort to frightened hearts.
We see this thinking at work when people stare numbly at adversity and ask, "What did I do to deserve this?" Sometimes the answer is, "nothing."
HAVE YOU EVER ASKED YOURSELF WHY ME?
And it doesn’t have to be bad; you could be excited from something wonderful.
Most often then not I ask myself this after something I am looking forward to goes wrong.
Even at times when something goes wrong I lay awake at night and my thoughts wonder to what previously occurred.
I am sure everyone does it at times, wishing for another try or chance.
You may lay awake thinking about your suffering, part of life’s suffering is misery’s shadow persisting/hanging on; not only do you suffer but you have to think about suffering.
I can’t prove this with statistics or find it any book I know of, yet I would say that more people either come to the faith or fall away because of this reason above all; the disturbance of suffering.
YOU SEE GOD USES TIMES OF SUFFERING…
… TO TEACH AND GROW US.
If you allow yourself to recount your sufferings, did you not learn more about faith while suffering then any other time? It has been said that; “Blessings are God’s whispers, he speaks in our conscience,but shouts to us in our suffering.”
“O my Comforter in sorrow,
My heart is faint within me.”
Suffering becomes the only way to realize our hollow spiritual self. Pain is unmasked, and every person knows when something is not right when they are hurting. Pain insists upon being attended to.
So when you travel down this line of thought you come to the idea, why do I or someone else suffer when others don’t?
I KNOW SUFFERING IS EXHAUSTING AND PAIN HURTS.
That is why it is called pain and suffering. If there were an escape. a person of great wisdom and insight would have done it already. Yet Discipleship demands such trials to compel us towards renewal.
Read Hebrews 2:10
“God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.”
The real question is what to do when life has just punched us a good one, and Job's comforters show up at our door. Nobody says we have to let them in.
And certainly nobody says we have to entertain them. And, most positively, nobody says we have to believe them.
“For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives,
So also through Christ our comfort overflows.” - 2 Corinthians 1:5
We can sort out the who's-to-blame-for-what after we get some solid ground under our feet and a little energy back into our lives.
But we still won't want Job's comforters anywhere around us…
… We will want people who care.
To me not to be kind is evil of the mind.
No need to pray or preach, Let us our children teach
With every fond caress Pity and gentleness:
So in the end may we, God's Kingdom cause to be.
~ By R.W. Service
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Copyright " 2013" THE MESSENGER ” ~ Mary Lindow