Pastor Mike has some wise words in this post Patience and Hope – A look at Job through new eyes.
Here’s a quote from the book “Authentic Faith” by Gary Thomas. “I must learn to accept some suffering as an inevitable part of living in a fallen world. These changes hurt. They are not easy. Suffering and change go hand in hand. If I refuse to suffer and refuse to suffer the discomfort of change, I will experience even more severe consequences as the idol increases it’s hold on my heart. I will be forever a stranger to experiential holiness.”
Idols are anything we give more of ourselves to than God. All sin is akin to addiction, and addictions enslave us. Some people have developed habits of sin over years. Breaking addictions is often a long and painful process, and I can tell you that even after you break the habit you still have to deal with what made you become an addict in the first place.
In this world we’re so used to immediate results, that when something doesn’t happen instantly we assume we’ve failed. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re doing all you can and you’re getting nowhere. We must remember habits are built over time, sometimes years, breaking them may take as long.
There is an initial period of suffering that has to take place as one breaks an addiction, but then the further you get beyond it the more freedom you experience. Having patience with yourself and others as you struggle to break free of those sins or addictions can make this process easier.
God sees us in the midst of our struggles, and He measures our successes as we should…minute by minute, day by day. We break sin and addiction by breaking it over and over again, until eventually it’s broken for good.
We can be holy, but “holiness may make your life more miserable in the short run, though far more joyful in the long run. If you insist on avoiding suffering at all costs, you will never be free of your addictions. If someone is truly serious about spiritual growth or overcoming a long-term bad habit, he or she had better be prepared to go to war.”
I’ve been through this, and for anyone who is facing these challenges I want to tell you that you can be free of them. God doesn’t stop loving you and He doesn’t give up on you, and with our amazing God all things are possible. There’s nothing no sin, no habit, no addiction that is bigger than God’s ability to take care of it.
Sometimes I wish we, as human beings, had the capacity to hear our words through the ears of those who are in the midst of terrible suffering. No matter how well intended, how true, how comforting they may be to some, there are those who will be hurt even more by what we say. Are the words we use directed toward those who are suffering, or toward ourselves? I know and sympathize with those who want so badly to say something, anything, that might bring some solace if even for a moment, but how many times have I seen in the last few days well-meaning comments and references to a loving God in connection with people who just aren’t able to see this truth in the mist of such heart-rending sorrow. There is a time for truth, for acceptance, for talk about solutions, and whys and wherefores, but I can’t help thinking that maybe some of our attempts to put words to our thoughts and feelings, and our desires to help might be better echoed in our prayer closets rather than in public. Sometimes in our rush to help, to comfort, to make better, the intended benefactors of our desire are often the ones trampled in the process.
Dear New Town Connecticut residents,
I have no words to express how sorry I am for what you are having to go through during this time. I know that words during this time are of very little comfort, and I wish that I could offer something more. I’m saddened and heartbroken that I have nothing to give that can make or change even for a brief moment the reality of what you’re suffering. I can only tell you that I am willing to share your burden with you. As you mourn, as you cry, as you rail against the injustice of what has happened, I want you to know that I hold each of you in my heart, and that I’m willing to share whatever you feel like sharing with me for as long as you need in whatever way you need me to share it with you. Please know that you are not alone in your grief. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
In the days and weeks ahead much of what happened in New Town, Connecticut is going to be analyzed and debated. People in the form of pundits, doctors, politicians, and preachers are going to be trying to use this as a platform to herald their views in an attempt to sway opinion.
Before we do that, before we jump on our bandwagons, take our positions, and make our cases can we take some time, a little time, to just think about the people involved in this horrific tragedy. Can we take some time to extend a loving thought toward those who are just now beginning to come to grips with unspeakable grief.
Can we take a moment to remember that there are many, many people who are suffering, who are experiencing pain on many different levels, and that all people no matter color or creed could benefit from the knowledge that someone cares.
So before we address the issues of evil, suffering, guns, mental illness, and all the rest of it, can we just take a moment to remember that the kindest most loving thing we can do for our fellow Americans and people everywhere is simply to love those we meet, work with, and live among with a love shown through our actions.
“Leaning upon her Beloved.” Solomon’s Song, 8:5
WHAT more appropriate, what more soothing truth could we bring before you, suffering Christian, than this? You are sick-lean upon Jesus. His sick ones are peculiarly dear to His heart. You are dear to Him. In all your pains and languishings, faintings and lassitude, Jesus is with you; for He created that frame, He remembers that it is but dust, and He bids you lean upon Him, and leave your sickness and its issue entirely in His hands. You are oppressed-lean upon Jesus. He will undertake your cause, and committing it thus into His hands, He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your judgment as the noonday. You are lonely-lean upon Jesus. Sweet will be the communion and close the fellowship which you may thus hold with Him, your heart burning within you while He talks with you by the way. Is the ascent steep and difficult? lean upon your Beloved. Is the path strait and narrow? lean upon your Beloved. Do intricacies and perplexities and trials weave their network around your feet? lean upon your Beloved. Has death smitten down the strong arm and chilled the tender heart upon which you were used to recline? lean upon your Beloved. Oh! lean upon Jesus in every strait, in every want, in every sorrow, in every temptation. Nothing is too insignificant, nothing too mean, to take to Christ. It is enough that you want Christ, to warrant you in coming to Christ. No excuse need you make for repairing to Him; no apology will He require for the frequency of your approach; He loves to have you quite near to Him, to hear your voice, and to feel the confidence of your faith and the pressure of your love. Ever remember that there is a place in the heart of Christ sacred to you, and which no one can fill but yourself, and from which none may dare exclude you. And when you are dying, oh! lay your languishing head upon the bosom of your Beloved, and fear not the foe, and dread not the passage; for His rod and His staff, they will comfort you. On that bosom the beloved disciple leaned at supper; on that bosom the martyr Stephen laid his bleeding brow in death; and on that bosom you, too, beloved, may repose, living or dying, soothed, supported, and sheltered by your Savior and your Lord.
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever will save his life shall lose it: but whoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” Luk_9:23-24
The life of our adorable Lord was a life of continuous trial. From the moment He entered our world He became leagued with suffering; He identified Himself with it in its almost endless forms. He seemed to have been born with a tear in His eye, with a shade of sadness on His brow. He was prophesied as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” And, from the moment He touched the horizon of our earth, from that moment His sufferings commenced. Not a smile lighted up His benign countenance from the time of His advent to His departure. He came not to indulge in a life of tranquility and repose; He came not to quaff the cup of earthly or of Divine sweets-for even this last was denied Him in the hour of His lingering agony on the cross. He came to suffer-He came to bear the curse-He came to drain the deep cup of wrath, to weep, to bleed, to die. Our Savior was a cross-bearing Savior: our Lord was a suffering Lord. And was it to be expected that they who had linked their destinies with His, who had avowed themselves His disciples and followers, should walk in a path diverse from their Lord’s? He Himself speaks of the incongruity of such a division of interests: “The disciple is not above his Master, nor the servant above his Lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord.” There can be no true following of Christ as our example, if we lose sight of Him as a suffering Christ-a cross-bearing Savior. There must be fellowship with Him in His sufferings. In order to enter fully and sympathetically into the afflictions of His people, He stooped to a body of suffering: in like manner, in order to have sympathy with Christ in His sorrows, we must, in some degree tread the path He trod. Here is one reason why He ordained, that along this rugged path His saints should all journey. They must be like their Lord; they are one with Him: and this oneness can only exist where there is mutual sympathy. The church must be a cross- bearing church; it must be an afflicted church. Its great and glorious Head sought not, and found not, repose here: this was not His rest. He turned His back upon the pleasures, the riches, the luxuries, and even the common comforts of this world, preferring a life of obscurity, penury, and suffering. His very submission seemed to impart dignity to suffering, elevation to poverty, and to invest with an air of holy sanctity a life of obscurity, need, and trial.
We have seen, then, that our blessed Lord sanctified, by His own submission, a life of suffering; and that all His followers, if they would resemble Him, must have fellowship with Him in His sufferings. The apostle Paul seems to regard this in the light of a privilege. “For unto you,” he says, “it is given in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” It seems, too, to be regarded as a part of their calling. “For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” Happy will be that afflicted child of God, who is led to view his Father’s discipline in the light of a privilege. To drink of the cup that Christ drank of-to bear any part of the cross that He bore-to tread in any measure the path that He trod, is a privilege indeed. This is a distinction which angels have never attained. They know not the honor of suffering with Christ, of being made conformable to His death. It is peculiar to the believer in Jesus-it is his privilege, his calling.