Sunday, August 15, 2010

Suffering


I haven't written much about my mom lately. There really isn't a rhyme or reason. Sometimes I feel like I go through seasons of grief. I either need to write about it or I don't. When I don't write I seem to talk about it more. I'm happy with that for now.

I found this post on the Proverbs 31 Ministries blog and felt like they were writing directly from my heart. It is so much of what I've learned and continue to learn from my mom. She's shown me a different way to look at suffering. I still struggle with the "why" of it all. Probably because it seems to be too simple an answer. I want to know how this will be used for His glory. I want to know so I can make sure that the "now" is worth it in the end. Then I'm reminded of how worldly my outlook is, and I pray that my spiritual sight would return. Thankfully, He is always faithful.
A Different Way to Look at Suffering
Micca Monda Campbell

"'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.'" John 9:3 (NIV)

Jesus had a unique way of clearing up misconceptions by helping people see truth as it was meant to be. For example, in John 9 we find Jesus refuting the traditional explanation of suffering when His disciples point to a man born blind and ask, "Who sinned, this man or his parents?" In other words, they wanted to know Why did he deserve blindness? Jesus answers frankly, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

The disciples looked backwards to find out why the man was blind. Jesus redirects their attention by pointing forward and upward with a new and different perspective.

Usually, our response to challenges or suffering is determined by our perspective. When our focus is inward on ourselves or outward on circumstances, our natural response is fear, insecurity, grumbling and despair. I know. I've been there far too often. Have you?

Yet, Jesus redirects our questions and our focus. In doing so, it causes us to see suffering in a new light that disproves the old tradition. Not all suffering is a direct result of sin. Pain has a higher purpose in our lives. It's not necessarily there because we deserve it. It's to reveal God's glory.

Suffering is meant to refine us. James says it makes us "perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (1:4b, ESV). Pain drives us to seek the heart and will of God.

Perhaps you and I have been going at it all wrong. We've been looking backwards in the rearview mirror of life asking, "Why? What did I do to deserve this?" Instead, we should look forward and up asking, "What's the purpose of my pain? What's the end result? What is God trying to do, accomplish, or teach me?"

These types of questions enable us to hold out hope for the future. They remind us our suffering can be transformed or redeemed. Tragedies and hardships like the loss of a spouse, a child, a limb, a job, or a home can be used to display God's work and make us more like Jesus.

Isn't it time you and I looked up? An upward focus brings about a supernatural response that reflects trust and confidence in God, as He brings about His glorious work in each of us.

Dear Lord, give me a new perspective today. Help me see the real meaning of my suffering. Enable me to trust You with the good work You are accomplishing in my life through this pain. I long for You to be glorified in this trial. Give me the strength I need to make that happen. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
http://proverbs31devotions.blogspot.com/2009/09/different-way-to-look-at-suffering.html

3 comments:

Linds said...

Our sermon yesterday was on this very verse! I love you! Knowing that it's for His glory doesn't negate your feelings... it just softens the blow and gives us hope through it all. You (and your family) are incredibly strong. Call me soon!

Carly Grace said...

I needed to hear this today. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Dear Mare,
You don't know me as I found your blog through a family member's referral, but I just want to tell you how God has shown me his face through your writings. He has used you to remind me that He is loving. He is good, and kind. That he cares for us even in the small things. I'm a relatively new believer and as i struggle with normal human life, I tend to forget that about Him, that He actually wants us to come to Him with our sufferings. Thank you for writing, and I am so happy to see how He has blessed you with your sweet family today. Your daughter is truly beautiful! Thanks again,
Lily

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