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

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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