My reading friend, suffering biblically looks like not denying you are suffering. It is pointless to deny suffering. There is nothing wrong with admitting to your family in Christ that you are struggling and hurting and that you need help. There is no need to suffer alone.
Suffering is the time the Body of Christ ought to come alive and minister to you with prayer, financial, or other practical things to help you. Find wise counsel that can help you as you journey through this wilderness. I would encourage you to be humble and let others in to your world.
Sadly, there is a sect of Christianity that thinks that unless we are walking around with plastic smiles on our faces all the time we are poor witnesses for Christ. I know they exist, I have met them! These people refuse to allow others to see their pain, instead presenting themselves as some sort of martyr before God, suffering in silence. This is foolishness! There is nothing ungodly about letting others you are suffering or in a period of trial.
David wrote the Psalms, 1st and 2nd Samuel, and they are full of David’s trials and suffering. If it is true as Hebrews says that everything that was written was written for our instruction, then it must apply to suffering also. You also have no way of knowing how God intends to use this time in your life to minister to others. How many of you have benefited from reading David’s laments in the Psalms as he suffered? Had he not written any of that down, where would you go for comfort?
Be transparent is what I am saying in all this. Be transparent. Don’t be fearful of those who might judge you; that sin is on their head. You let others see what God is doing in your life as you go through this time.
Through all of your trial, keep the centrality of Jesus Christ and the supremacy of Christ on the forefront. The trials you suffer do not negate who Jesus Christ is. He is still God. He should be central in all you do and think. Keep your focus on who you are in Christ- the struggle is so large down here that we take our eyes off of Him, off of who we really are in Him. Look at Ephesians 1 and 2 to see what is lasting and permanent- and focus on it! You are already seated with Christ in the heavens (Eph.2:4), are sealed with the Holy Spirit awaiting the redemption of your mortal body. In Christ, you are already participating in the new creation that dawned with Christ’s resurrection, so you are to be heavenly-minded, Christ minded, fixing your eyes on Jesus.
Of course we still live in this world, but your outlook is to be God ward rather than focusing on the temporary nature of humanity (including yourself and your current sufferings) and instead looking at the eternal rather than this present time of life, at holiness rather than happiness, glorifying God rather than demanding that God meet your “felt needs.” Christ is our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Is this not better than having “felt needs” met? Felt needs are things like “value” “respect” “love” “time” “emotional connection” Your felt needs today will be different than your felt needs tomorrow. They are fickle like feelings. They come and go hour by hour. The righteousness, holiness and redemption we have in Christ is unchangeable and does not hinge on how I feel.
Only with this kind of orientation can we be free from the burdens of our suffering that threaten to drag us down like so many heavy links of the chains that bind us. You will in essence overcome the pain and emotional torment of the trial while in the midst of the trial. You will see that you can live above the circumstances you are in.
Believe that God is sovereign and that He loves and cares for you completely. Do not doubt His wisdom in your situation and trust that He has something that will provide for your needs at hand, and remain are open to whatever that may be.
I can tell you that you can learn how to glorify God with your life- even in the midst of terrible suffering. You are being pointed back to Jesus, His Word, and challenged to love and serve others. Keep the supremacy of Christ in constant focus. John Piper says, “All things are dependent on God and less valuable than God. Everything and everyone is dependent on Him for existence and for value, and is, therefore, less valuable than God.”
What ever has caused your suffering today, a person, a job, a loss of health or loss of stuff- it is not as valuable as God is. These things should not bring you more joy, more peace, more contentment than Jesus Christ does. They are the created things, and they bow in submission to Christ the Creator.
Suffering brings out our misplaced love. We can sometimes see things more clearly for what they really are. If the bottom has fallen out for you- and your kid calls you and tells you he just was in an accident the first question isn’t “how’s the car” it is “are you hurt?”
We value different things while suffering. Relationships with people we love become more important, our relationship with Christ becomes more important too. Stuff takes a back seat. Understanding this is central to your ability to successfully navigate these rough waters! Remember though- no matter how precious to you the person or thing is to you, the loss of it or them is nothing in comparison to what you have in Christ that you cannot lose!
Does this not want to make you worship Him? Isn’t it truly good to know that our suffering does not eliminate His supremacy?
Ask others to pray for you in this: that you might understand these truths and that you might not take your eyes off of Him. “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt.11:29
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