Suffering is no fun, but it is a part of our lives. It happens to everyone, to us all. We suffer physically, emotionally, and spiritually. There is a purpose for suffering, God allowed it to be a part of his creation. Since He created our Universe consisting of matter, energy, and time, He is outside the box and knew that he wanted to give us character traits that only come through suffering. If we can get a good sense of our reality through God’s perspective, and grasp His love for us His creation, we began to relax and then recover. We know that some of what his happening may be a direct result of the choices we make, but also God is working in the background to mold us into the individuals that He wants us to be. Remember that for the Christian, those who have a childlike faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior, all things work together for good, to those who love Him, to those who are called according to HIS purpose, not ours.
Let’s look into four areas:
First let’s begin by talking about LOVE. In today’s society you ask a person what does it mean to love someone, and you will get a multitude of answers. God’s kind of love is spelled out in 1 Cor. 13: 4-7. In fact the entire Chapter speaks about that very topic in more detail. Since God loves us this way, we are supposed to reach out and love others in this manner.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
This is the way that God wants us to treat other people, even when they don’t deserve it. And you know that each us sometimes behave in a manner where we don't deserve it either, but God still loves us in this manner. We can’t grasp how immense God’s love for us is, but when we were adopted into God’s family we now have a perfect heavenly father who knows just how to deal and shape each of his kids. Paul said in Ephesians 3:
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father,
15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Second, we must get a grasp of Suffering from God’s perspective. Jesus Christ was sinless and He suffered. Job was just and righteous before God and he suffered. Suffering has a purpose. It builds character traits that we can get no other way. Do we like it? No! Does it hurt? Yes! Do we want it to happen to us? No Way! But God uses suffering to build in us Character traits that we can not obtain in any other way. We are being prepared for eternity, so we can carry out our responsibilities that he has for us on the other side of the grave. Paul said that he had reached a point where he could rejoice in his suffering, because He knew that God had a purpose in it. Not many people grasp that concept, because they do not look at it from a Biblical standpoint. They only look at from a standpoint that it is painful and uncomfortable.
5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
If our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was completed and perfected through suffering, it’s a good bet that we are too!
CONFESSION – TALKING ABOUT OUR PROBLEMS
Many times in the Bible it uses the word confess or confession. This is opening up and voicing our problems and hurts with others and with God. If we keep wounding thoughts to ourselves and never voice them, our minds become preoccupied with them. With time they turn into bigger and bigger monsters. These monsters can only be slayed by opening up and talking about them. Someone who has gone through a traumatic experience can bury hurt and shame in their sub consciousness. It is too painful for the person to normally approach so they just try not to go there in their minds. It is a painful splinter that cannot be soothed until it is dug out and dealt with. Counselors have won half the battle just by getting their patients to open and voice their hurts, then with time they dig out the buried splinters and deal with them.
BUT REMEMBER! We are careful who we open up to. We tell only those who have our best interest at heart, not gossips. We don’t broadcast our dirty laundry in public. I am reminded of Proverbs 28:13 and 14.
13 He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
14 Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.
I can remember many times telling my wife about some things that bothered me, then she would look at me and say, “That is crazy.” She was right! The more I talked about the problem the more absurd I could see my thoughts were. We all need each other, and those who talk about their problems openly are the people who are the healthiest and strongest emotionally.
CONFIDENCE AND HOPE
Being senior citizens gives us an advantage. We have lived enough life to experience problems and hurts but still plow forward. God knows how long we will be on this earth and when we will exit. Mostly there are days filled with sunshine, and then there are fewer rainy days. There are still fewer days that storm, and only rarely there are days with tornados or hurricanes. But through it all God is there next to us his children taking care of us.
Adding to Romans 5:1-4 above, look at Romans 8
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.'