Sunday, March 23, 2014

Christian Perspective Blog: Suffering is not optional

Gary and I attend a local Nazarene church called "Cornerstone".  This is the church group with whom we went to Haiti in 2010 on a mission to serve those who needed assistance after their great earthquake.  It is also the church that provides guidance, learning and teaching opportunities and great comfort through friendship and compassion.


Jesus sent a message this week to Pastor Jerry to preach today's word just for me.  (Not really, but it certainly seemed as if the message was for me).  Today's lesson was one of a series leading up to Easter.  The subject matter was a difficult one regarding SUFFERING, and the words were eloquent.  In fact, we all received bracelets a few weeks back labeled "Journey to the Cross".


Here is where I will interject a squirrel moment:  If you haven't seen the Movie "SON OF GOD", you really should do so.  It is amazing.


The rest of this blog uses phrases from Pastor Jerry, THE BIBLE and from a book he referenced by Dr. Timothy Keller on pain and suffering. Rather than annotate properly, I'm just telling you now, these are mostly not my original thoughts.  I run a college, I should not plagiarize!


Much of the life that Gary and I now lead consists of lots of loving moments, but times of real stress due to his memory loss.  I am worse with it than he is, but I get so frustrated with looking for items he has lost, repeated discussions, and just getting through trouble-shooting unbelievable situations that it could be considered suffering.  Prior to today, many times I have asked the question "Why?"  I don't think I'll ask anymore.


If you aren't at a place in life where you are suffering, you probably know someone who is or will be.  I believe we are called to assist them.  Pastor reiterated this belief very well today.  He referenced three ways the BIBLE tells us that God uses us through our suffering.  I will paraphrase:
  1. He uses suffering to call people to him. Without suffering, many people would never be open to the concept of Father/God/Jesus, etc.   I often pray or give energy to Jesus when I am most upset.  It always seemed weak but I find comfort knowing I am loved, no matter what.
  2. He uses suffering to develop character.  Suffering leads to perseverance which leads to hope.   Think of some of the strongest people or examples you know....chances are good they suffered.  I don't mind having a strong character.
  3. He uses suffering to discipline us.  (NOT PUNISH).  He helps us focus on the future and restoration and gives us hope of a Master, better plan.  His plan is certainly better than my pitiful and often non-existent one.
Here is a quick recap of the book Walking through God with Pain and Suffering as I took notes from a short video clip.  Please read the book if you want detail.
God gives us tools through suffering and some very specific steps that will assist us.  First, we must WEEP....honestly.  Don't be stoic or quiet if you are feeling it.  Luckily, in examining my own life, I have no issues with using Step Number one. (Smile)  The second suggestion is to PRAY.  Even Job in the BIBLE griped and complained through his misery and suffering but he did it in prayer, openly to GOD.  That's ok.  Don't turn our back on God....its a very different concept!
Three is to love GOD first and to re-order the "loves" in our lives.  Suffering is kind of like an internal guidance system that lets us know that perhaps we have gotten things out of order.  The fourth step is to LOOK TO THE CROSS.  Jesus suffered unimaginably for us on that hunk of wood.


Pastor added a fifth step that included remembering the resurrection.  He defeated death.  So, what is suffering in our modern world?


So, now I look at my pitiful suffering in a different way.  There is a plan that my little pea brain may never know. Suffering or how we look at it IS optional.


I have faith that my Gary will continue to be happy, hopefully unstressed and will stay on his path with the Lord.  Step by step, day by day, will get me through.  Thanks to all who pray and care for us daily.

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