Monday, July 30, 2018

Lessons of Faith - Dealing with Suffering

At some point in time, we all face a trial that profoundly impacts our lives. It could be medical, financial, spiritual or a combination of all three. We are pushed to our limits and we feel that we are alone. We feel that God has given up on us or that He has turned His back on us. In some cases, we feel that God has singled us out and He is punishing us for something that we have done or failed to do. We plead with God to relieve the suffering or, if it continues day after day, week after week and month after month, we ask Him, "Haven't I suffered enough?"

These are all natural things we do. We feel that God has abandoned us and that we are doomed to suffer for whatever reason. As I continue to deal with my illness, I can tell you that I have found myself wondering if God even cared for me or that He was listening to my prayers. I searched my soul to find where I had sinned and now had to endure punishment for something I had done. I cried out to God for wisdom and felt that all I received in return was silence. I know that there are those of you who have felt the same. 

We, however, should not feel that way. God always listens to His children and responds to their prayers. Peter tells us, in chapter 3 of his First Epistle, "12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil."

God listens to His children and watches over them. During our times of trials and troubles, we often forget His promise to us. We often succumb to the whispers of Satan as he tells us that God does not care about us. It is a lie. Once again, Satan exploits your situation and worms his way into your heart and mind. He tries to turn you away from God. Look at the last part of verse 12. God only turns His face away from those who do evil. As His children, we have been made righteous by God by accepting His son, Christ Jesus, as our personal Savior and Lord. Satan will always attack at the time when we are weakest. It is at that moment that we really are the strongest.

Paul, in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, tells them about his weaknesses, and the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that he suffered for Christ. But, look at the last part of 2 Corinthians 12:10. "For when I am weak, then I am strong."

How is this even possible? Paul tells us about the Lord's response to his pleading to take away the insults, hardships, persecutions and trouble. "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." Since we cannot depend on ourselves, we must learn to depend on Him even during our times of trials and troubles. When we suffer, we are to reach out to Him in prayer not to plead with Him. We are to praise Him and thank Him for all of the blessings He has given us.

Even in the darkest hours, there are moments of light. We should be thanking God for those blessings of light that remind us that He loves us. Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5, gives us the way we should be acting even in the face of disaster. "16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

It starts with us changing how we pray. God knows what we are enduring. When we change our prayer by moving away from pleading with Him to praising Him, our attitudes change and we are more optimistic and experience a God-given heavenly peace. We should be giving thanks and praying for His will to be done in our lives no matter what the final outcome is to be. It is a hard thing to accept, but we are assured that God will never forsake us.

Jesus, in John 16, tells us that we will face all sorts of trials and sorrows during the course of our lives. "33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

Jesus was victorious over death so that we may have eternal life and the promise of salvation. With that firmly planted in our heart, mind and soul, we, too, can overcome our many trials and sorrows and praise our Savior all the day long even during the most difficult of times as long as we remember to rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances. 

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