Thursday, February 02, 2006

Here are some thoughts I've had recently about suffering...

#1 Suffering is something we all experience when following God!

"Beloved, don't be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though something strange were happening to you" - 1 Peter 4:12

Maki told me about a drama on T.V. that she recently saw. The main actress had faced a horrible childhood. In the midst of it, she had prayed to God to help her out of her problems. Near the end there was a scene where the actress was in a Catholic church crying out to God, "Why didn't you help me!" "You said you would save me, but where were you?"

I think if some people were honest, they would say they had at least felt a little bit this way at one point or another. When we suffer, we wonder, where is God?

Listen to these words from Jesus (God in human flesh) :

"Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep."
Luke 6:21,25

Did you know that Christians, real Christians following the Lord, often weep and mourn more than non-Christians? At first glance, people see this and say, "Why would I want to be a Christian?" Most of them don't have the cool cars, the designer clothes or the expensive house with a servant. Most of them seem very weak and have struggles. Why would I want to be a Christian? Well, can I say, "Yes, if you are looking at the temporary things of this world, you will never be happy as a Christian." In fact it is impossible to become a Christian unless you give up your love for this world. You will never go to heaven unless you let go of this world. We must lose our pursuit of this world's pleasures and go after REAL eternal joy and pleasure in God's presence. This is what we were made for. Jesus, who is our Savior, is also our model for purposeful suffering. This is something the girl in the drama didn't think about. Jesus forsook this world and chose God's glory as His treasure. He chose suffering in this life. Hebrews 12:2 lets us peer into Jesus mind when it says, "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Jesus hated the shame and the suffering. He was not a masochist, but He was looking for the reward and joy of being with God and helping others be with God. Through the pain he showed love and he showed God's worthiness. He knew the pain would not last forever, but joy with God does.

This world is only a testing ground. (1 Peter 4:12) Suffering, like it did for Job, tests our treasure. This is not your home. You cannot take what you own with you when you die. You will have nothing to take with you but what you did with God. You will either belong to heaven and your Father God or to your Father Satan and to His punishment in hell. This is not your home. You cannot stay here. Nor can you take any of your possessions with you where you are going very soon. Our sufferings are like a flashing red light that says, "This is not the way it supposed to be, but someday God's kingdom will come!" Instead of realizing this, most are slipping towards the end... they will soon be in hell, wishing they would have listened and acted on God's words. Suffering is a warning that says, "This is a taste of the eternal punishment that you need to avoid through Christ."


Scented Imbecile said...

Interesting post. Personally, I think God wants us to be happy in thislife and the next. The only suffering comes when we're not living by his will, and are caught up in self. Thats been my experience of it at least.

Carly T said...

Thanks Mark. I've just been reading through James 1 again this arvo to reconfirm that Christians can expect to face trials of some sort and that God uses those trials to test our faith and develop perseverance that we "may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." I seek to remain rooted in God's Love and continue to give thanks and praise Him when those trials come!!!

Vitamin Z said...

Scented imbecile:

What would you make of all Biblical characters who suffered from God, though they seemed to be living in his will? Joseph, Job, Paul, and most of all Jesus? Just a humble question in light of the Bible.

Mark, great to see you have joined the blosphere. Blessings.

holdin it loosely said...

i would have to agree with vitamin z-

how would you define "happy" what if "happiness" is struggling or suffering- to become more like Jesus. i totally don't believe that when you suffer that you aren't doing His will- that would be tragic to live in. Our son died last year- are you saying that he died because we were out of his will (scented imbecile)? how tragic. all I see is that God causes suffering, He is sovereign- Job 42- He purpose can't be thwarted. Ps 139- He has ordained our days.
sorry this is dear to my heart- i would argue this til the cows come home!! moo!

Scented Imbecile said...

All. For me, it depends how you define suffering.

Since I found God, personally I have never found anything in this life (unemployment, bereavement etc) that has been able to remove from me the core power within me that makes me happy - mainly I believe because I seek his will every single day. If something disturbs me, it is something about me, even just a character trait, that is the issue (which doesn't mean I can't stand up for myself when something is wrong - simply that there isno need to be angry about it).

So yes I have emotions like the next person - sadness, joy, frustration - but I don't suffer them.

Holdin it loosely: I am truly sorry to hear of your loss. No, I'm not saying he died because you were out of his will. I'm struggling to think of something to type as I've tried a few times and each time I do it sounds trite in the face of what you've shared below.

But I also don't believe it is God's will for us to be miserable which is the image suffering conjures up in my mind.

Mark and Maki Wolter said...

Scented imbecile - I am glad to see that you agree that sometimes it is God's will for us to face many trials and difficulties. You are right that our joy in Christ overcomes those difficulties, however, I think we do really suffer at times. To have struggles and emotionally detach from them is not what Job experienced. He truly suffered, but within it, he knew that God was bigger and somehow had a plan that was holy and right. "Shall we accept good from the Lord and not adversity?" (2:10) He was faithful to God because he realized that it was God who "gives and takes away" (1:21) "blessed be the name of the Lord!" Suffering is real, but God is bigger.

DW said...

Just thought I'd share two verses on the suffering of our Savior.

Acts 2:23 says, "this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless man."

Mark 14:32-34 says, "And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch."

It seems that Jesus' suffering is both planned by God and therefore in His will and yet very real in its emotions.

I'm so thankful. Because when we suffer we can look to the One who has suffered infinitely times more and can identify with us in the pain and yet comfort us in His providence.