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How Do We Respond in Our Sufferings 

 

Who can say that he has never tasted suffering? All of us have gone through some kind of suffering. We have felt agony, pain, disappointment, mental tension, sickness, poverty, helplessness. We suffer the failures of the past, bitterness, unemployment; we may have been diagnosed with some fatal disease in our body. Perhaps we have experienced sudden trauma, a fatal accident, the death of a spouse, mother, father, or other loved one. There are many incidents and experiences which leave negative impressions on our body, mind and soul. We cannot deny such realities and facts. If we do, then we are not transparent and honest with ourselves.

“Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.” (Job 14:1)

Indeed, this world is a house of pain and suffering. Now the question arises: what is our attitude when we go through our sufferings? Did Jesus Christ ever promise that if you follow Him you would never face trouble? Suffering is part of our day to day life. Believers and non-believers alike suffer with the same afflictions. Do you think that the Royal family of Britain has never gone through times of suffering? Then as Christians how do we look at suffering?

Jesus said, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34)

Jesus’ words mean that those hard times which we go through today are enough; do not invite the trouble which may come tomorrow. Deal first with your present sufferings. Do not think about future trouble and don’t gather more troubles for yourself. We are not aware of our tomorrows. But we are certain of who holds our tomorrows. Our tomorrows are in the hands of Christ.

How do you respond in sufferings?

1.  Do you look for escapism during sufferings?

As an ordinary men and women, and as believers, we do not like to experience suffering. It is human nature to want to avoid trouble. We often pray, “Lord, protect us from all sorts of sufferings, sickness, and sudden disasters.” It is indeed a good prayer but when we experience suffering how many of us pray like this; “Lord, take me out of it this, or Lord, strengthen me to endure this. Give me your grace, strength and wisdom so that I may successfully go through it”?

While living on this earth we cannot escape suffering. Sooner or later we have to experience suffering. Therefore it is necessary to accept suffering as a challenge.

2.  Do you see suffering as a challenge?

Yes, I see my sufferings as a result of my own mistakes, or perhaps it is from the Lord to teach me some new lessons. Do I face it boldly and look for a way to come through it? We learn in the Word of God and in church history about the people who have suffered. For example, William Carey faced many difficulties; he was laid flat and lost heart. It is hard for such people to live successfully.

“If thou faint in the day of adversity, Thy strength is small.” (Proverbs 24:10)

Yes, human strength and energy and endurance are very limited. A lay person can be easily disheartened. The apostle Paul says,

“I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Anyone can be easily discouraged or dismayed without Jesus Christ. In fact, human strength is not enough, it is too little. If you are strong during difficulties or difficult times then your strength is great. This kind of strength can be achieved and received from Jesus Christ. Through the strength of Jesus Christ we can overcome the difficulties and be victorious. We should be aware that the God we worship is fully able to take us out of sufferings with certainty.

“…who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…”

 (Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus also suffered bitterly. Even early Christians suffered and faced crises, but they did not lose heart and they offered their lives. They were thrown before hungry lions. They were put into boiling oil; some of them were cut into pieces with swords. Yet they stood firm on their faith. If you face suffering boldly through Jesus Christ then the suffering will flee away.

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it.” (1Corinthians 10:13)

“My grace is sufficient for thee:” (2Corinthians 12:9)

3.  Do you accept suffering as a training place?

Do you understand that difficulties and sufferings are your best teachers? Perhaps you do not learn practical, spiritual lessons in your life through study, but as you go through times of suffering you learn those precious lessons within few weeks or days. Then these precious lessons become a part of your life and you never forget them.

(a)    Suffering helps us to move forward. Suffering served as a springboard through which we move ahead in life. It is a stepping stone. It is very common to grumble in sufferings.

It is some thing very special that you take a bitter drink

but you taste a cold and sweet drink. This is true Christian living.

(b)     Suffering acts as a catalyst. Our suffering helps to break down our human ego and pride so that we may be better used for the Lord. Our sufferings beautify us. They produce and enhance a glow in our character.

(c)  Sufferings help us to identify another person’s troubles. In order to understand and to feel other’s sufferings one must experience it himself. If you have not experienced a toothache then how would you sympathize with the pain of another person?

We can better help these people if we have gone through the same experience. On the one hand our sufferings represent the negative picture, a bitter drink and dark night. At the same time there is a positive side, a sweet drink and a bright morning. But the condition is that if we must accept these troubles with a positive attitude. While going through these times we need to ponder on the positive and good things.

If there is a glass half filled with water, two people can look at it with different perspectives. One may see it as a half empty glass, the other see it as a half filled glass. Both have the right point of view! In the same way, one can look at his or her circumstances and sufferings with a positive attitude, or a negative attitude. May God grant us a positive attitude even when we suffer.

“An optimist sees an opportunity in every difficulty.

But a pessimist sees a difficulty in every opportunity.”

4.  Do you remember God’s promises during sufferings?

“When thou passes through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.    For I am Jehovah thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour; I have given Egypt as thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in thy stead.”    (Isaiah 43:2-3)

“ and even to old age I am he, and even to hoar hairs will I carry you; I have made, and I will bear; yea, I will carry, and will deliver. “(Isaiah 46:4)

“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, these may forget, yet will not I forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” (Isaiah 49:15-16)

“casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you.” (1Peter 5:7)

“Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34)

God’s promises are precious. They are true and real. God is unchanging and His promises are also unchanging. God’s promises with His children are particularly with those who are bought with his precious blood. How is your attitude during your suffering?

  • Do you look for escapism during your sufferings?
  • Do you see your sufferings as a challenge?
  • Do you take your suffering as a training place?
  • Do you remember God’s promises during these sufferings?

May the Lord grant us strength so that we should not escape from our sufferings but that we boldly face these challenges. We must learn spiritual lessons from our sufferings. Remember the promises of God and cling to the Lord.

May our Lord richly bless you. Amen.

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