Yesterday I previewed the classic book Waiting on God by Andrew Murray. The YouTube video below is actually an audio recording of the book. If you don’t have time to read, this is a great way to make your way through this wonderful book. I listen to books on audio almost every day while cleaning house or driving in the car. Happy listening! Blessings…

 

 

Waiting on God (1896)

Waiting on God  is Andrew Murray’s 31 Day series of prayers and mediation on the theme of waiting on the Lord. Each day offers a Scripture with an inspirational reflection on its meaning. I’ve been reading this book daily for many years. It never fails to help me make it through the toughest of times.

RHW Podcast Episode 8

Waiting

Hi Friends! Welcome to Episode Eight of the Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery where we are learning new ways of coping with our daily struggles. My name is Tamara and I will be your host.

With the healing power of the Holy Spirit as our guide, we are integrating the traditional 12 Step Recovery principles with Benedictine Spirituality and other contemplative practices. Each Monday we are discussing our theme of the week.

Today our theme topic is: Waiting 

Waiting is difficult and annoying for anyone. We each have to wait for something almost every day. But with today’s technology we are doing our best to decrease the amount of waiting we have to do. We can place our table reservations for dinner on our phone app instead of waiting in line. We can order clothes online instead of fighting the crowded mall next weekend. We can even order our groceries to be delivered to our front door. While we can shave time off our busy days in some areas, there are other things that we can’t take shortcuts on.

No matter how fancy modern technology gets it will still take nine months for a baby to be born. It still takes 18 years before most children leave home. And God has His own timing for the various seasons of our life and the lessons that must be learned in them. Our challenge is to keep the right heart attitude in the midst of the waiting.

When I was pregnant and expecting any of my three children to be born, I didn’t just sit around and wait for them to be born. I was actively preparing for their arrival. Now granted, everyday wasn’t a planning day, but most of those 280 days were used for learning, planning and preparing for the expected bundle of joy to arrive. I spent hours reading parenting books, books of baby names, choosing and purchasing furniture, decorating the room, taking birthing classes and so on. While the baby was growing and developing in the womb, my husband and I were growing, developing and preparing to be new parents. The waiting time was active.

When we invite guests to our home for a dinner party we don’t wait to prepare everything the minute the guests arrive. We must make our plans and preparations in advance. We choose our menu, purchase the food, clean the house, and then cook the dinner. While waiting for the anticipated day we are still being active.

Waiting on God to answer our prayers can be an active time, too.

Are you waiting for God to send you a spouse? Maybe you can spend time preparing by reading some good relationship books.

Are you waiting for a job promotion? Maybe you can start learning more about the position in advance to save training time.

What are you waiting for? Is there something you can be doing in advance to prepare yourself?

The Bible has much to say about waiting. Our basic job in life is waiting. Let’s face it, we are waiting on something today, that we get tomorrow. The next day we will start waiting for something else completely different. If we can’t figure out how to wait correctly we will have a miserable life.

The book of Psalms says there are three ways to wait:

  • Wait Quietly I will wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. ~ Psalm 62:5
  • Wait Patiently Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for him to act. ~ Psalm 37:7
  • Wait Expectantly I wait expectantly, trusting God to help, for what he has promised. ~ Psalm 105:5

During this time of waiting must check our heart attitude and the words of our mouth. Being careful not to grumble, trusting and believing God; while doing all we can to prepare ourselves for the answer.

Thanks so much for joining me today on the Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery where we are learning new ways of coping with our daily struggles.

I hope you will take some time to check out the resources on ReachingHurtingWomen.com this week as we discuss our theme topic of Waiting.

Until next time may the grace and peace of God be yours.

“Three Types of Suffering”
by Fr. John Oliver

Hearts and Minds
July 4, 2016

Father John Oliver teaches us about three types of suffering and the healing of the paralytic in John 5.

“The struggle is what we bring to God, only what we bring, because deliverance in His job.”

 

Fr. John Oliver is the priest of St Elizabeth Orthodox Christian Church, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He is the author of numerous articles and essays, and of Touching Heaven: Discovering Orthodox Christianity on the Island of Valaam, published by Conciliar Press. His newest book is Giver of Life: The Holy Spirit in the Orthodox Christian Tradition which will be published soon by Paraclete Press. A graduate of St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, he joined the faculty as instructor in Old and New Testament and American Religious History.  He and his wife Lara have three daughters and two sons.

Suffering

Helpful or Harmful

suffer: to undergo, be subjected to, or endure pain, distress, injury, loss, or anything unpleasant

It’s true there is much suffering brought on us in the world today; by the economy, accidents, disease, natural disasters, etc…  Sometimes the consequences of our own poor choices, behaviors and decisions result in our own suffering, maybe even that of our loved ones.

How can we live out these consequences without suffering? 

Is it possible to take each day’s discipline with a good attitude? 

To accept our life as it is without complaining, be grateful for the freedoms and benefits we still enjoy? 

To be thankful that we have another chance at life, love and potential happiness?

Yes. But it’s not always easy. We think we’re suffering with our shrinking paychecks, expanding waistline, unexpected car repairs, never-ending family dramas, inconvenient court appointments, outrageous medical expenses, etc,

Instead of complaining about how bad we think everything is, maybe we can look at our suffering with new eyes and see real purpose. 

  • Why do we suffer? Sometimes even when we do everything right we will still suffer. The enemy tries to steal our joy & blessing before we can receive it by giving us problems. We need to see the bigger picture, maybe the purpose is to make us stronger.
  • How should we react in times of suffering? How we react reveals who we are and what we believe. Knowing why we are suffering can teach us to avoid the cause, but it’s more important to know how to respond. Rather than sit back passively accept suffering, we can step up, stand in faith and believe God to bring change.
  • What can we learn from suffering? If we listen, we can hear God speak to us in the midst of our struggles. Just as drought drive the roots of a tree deeper for water–so suffering can drive us from superficial acceptance to dependence on God for hope and life.

Is your suffering affecting change for you that is good or bad?

Suffering is harmful when:
We become hardened and reject God.
We refuse to ask questions and miss lessons that might be good for us.
We allow it to make us self-centered and selfish.
We withdraw from the help of others.
We reject that God can bring good out of calamity.
We accuse God of being unjust and perhaps lead others to reject Him.
We refuse to be open to any changes in our lives.

Suffering is helpful when:
We turn to God for understanding, endurance and deliverance.
We ask important questions we might not ask in a normal routine.
We are prepared by it to identify with and comfort others who suffer.
We are open to being helped by others.
We are sensitized to the amount of suffering in the world.
We are ready to learn from a trustworthy God.
We can identify with what Christ suffered on the cross for us.

Questions to ask in times of suffering; what to do if the answer is yes:

Am I being punished by God for sin? Is Satan attacking me for being a Christian?
Confess the sin and call on God for strength.

Am I being prepared for a special service, learning compassion?
Resist self-pity. Ask God to open doors of opportunity to help others.

Am I being tested?
Recognize in this sinful world both good and evil people will suffer. Remember, as Christians we have a promise that our suffering will one day come to an end.

Is my suffering for and unknown reason?
Don’t turn inward from the pain. Stand in faith. Know that God cares and wait patiently on His timing.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-3 NIV

 

(Some material excerpt from The Life Application Study Bible)
Image credit: itsmejust / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally published July 8, 2010

The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis (HarperCollins, 1949)

 

If God is good and all-powerful, why does he allow his creatures to suffer pain? And what of animals who suffer needlessly?

Considered the greatest Christian thinker of modern times, C. S. Lewis sets out to answer these complicated questions. With chapter titles such as: Divine Goodness; Human Wickedness; Human Pain; Hell, and Heaven, Lewis offers compassionate insight, hope and wisdom to a world hungering for truth.

RHW Podcast Episode 7

Suffering: Bringing Our Struggles To God

Hi Friends! Welcome to Episode Seven of the Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery where we are learning new ways of coping with our daily struggles. My name is Tamara and I’ll be your host.

With the healing power of the Holy Spirit as our guide, we are integrating the traditional 12 Step Recovery principles with Benedictine Spirituality and other contemplative practices which we will be learning and discussing. It’s my hope to have a new podcast each Monday to discuss our theme of the week on ReachingHurtingWomen.com

This week our theme topic is: Suffering

We all experience suffering and we all handle it differently. Suffering has many levels and can be expressed in various emotions and behaviors. It can be painful, even destructive especially to our relationships.

What is suffering for you may not be suffering for me. What is suffering for me today may not be suffering for me tomorrow.But most suffering is a result of our lack of acceptance. When we can’t control life we suffer. Whatever it is, if we don’t like it and can’t change it, it is going to cause us suffering. Until we surrender to what we cannot control we will continue to suffer.

The degree to which we surrender to our suffering is the degree that we will grow stronger spiritually.

I have to say after 37 years of marriage this particular season of life, especially the last 2.5 years has been one of non-stop suffering for my husband and me. Without going into the details about our personal life we’ve had several moves, each with a job transition, health, legal, financial and family issues. It seems we’re getting hammered from every side. Then throw in trying to stay sober in the midst of all that… and you have suffering!

The book of James tells us:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. ~ James 1:2

I don’t know about you, but I’m not jumping up and down for joy in the midst of my suffering.

As I was preparing for this podcast I found many great blog columns on Christians and suffering, the purposes of our suffering, why God allows us to suffer, truths about suffering and so on. I’d like to share some insights I gathered from my readings. Here are just a few:

7 Purposes of Suffering:

  1. Suffering increases our awareness of God’s power.

In our moments of suffering we are most aware of God’s omnipotent power.

  1. Suffering refines and strengthen us.

Usually when we get on the other side of suffering we have learned a lesson and are stronger for it.

  1. Suffering teaches us humility.

It’s pretty difficult to stay in pride and suffer. Not always, but usually suffering has a way of bringing us to our knees.

  1. Suffering teaches us to number our days.

We may be counting the days for the wrong reason, but at least we‘re counting them.

  1. Suffering equips us to minister to others.

After we have made it through our season of suffering, we are able to help others that struggle with the same thing we did.

  1. Suffering allows God to manifest His care.

If we are in a community of Christians God will use them to care for our needs if we will make our needs known.

  1. Suffering makes us dependent on God.

In times of suffering sometimes God is all we have.

 

During These Days of Suffering The 12 Steps Are Top of Mind:

  • I’m aware of my powerlessness more than ever because I can’t do anything without God’s help.
  • I need God to keep me sane, otherwise I’d be pulling my hair out.
  • I have to turn my will over daily, because following my will can get me into trouble.
  • I am reminded of my character defects, almost every morning. When I get out of bed physical pain reminds me of the bad food choices I made yesterday.
  • I’m asking God daily for the knowledge of His will and the ability to carry it out. Without His help I surely won’t be able to do it.
  • And to help me process my personal struggles, God has provided this podcast and website. This is where I contemplate on the lessons God is trying to teach me and pass them on to you.

That’s not all 12 of the Steps, but those are the ones that stick out most today.

As a recovering addict, I’m usually trying to avoid pain at all cost. But I’m finally learning the more I fight the pain and suffering, the more I try to run from it, to avoid it, to remove it… the worse it gets and the longer it may last.

If I can find my way to accepting this moment and its lesson for me, trusting that there is something better on the other side of the suffering, I will be closer to God’s peace. When I surrender to what this moment brings me, I am accepting God’s providence and by trusting Him, I am loving Him.

Before we close I want to circle back around to the verse I shared at the beginning from the book of James and read the whole verse:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. ~ James 1:2

Friends we are all in this together. Our struggles are not a waste. God is using them to grow us into something wonderful. Our struggles are what we bring to God; it is His job to deliver us.

I know many of you are suffering in some way today. You may not be physically suffering, but you may be going through a relationship or financial difficulty.

I pray that you will take some time and go to ReachingHurtingWomen.com and check out the different resources on Suffering that will be posting each day this week. Also you will find category tabs above each blog post where you can find more helpful content. As always I look forward to hearing from you. Please post your comments below the show notes on today’s column. 

Thanks for joining me today on The Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery where we are learning new and healthy ways of coping with our daily struggles.

Until next time, may the grace and peace of God be yours…