Thursday, September 27, 2012

So What is Suffering? Why is it in the World?

Today we’re going to dive right in by talking about suffering, then perseverance. I get your emails, and I know many of you are going through rough patches. You can’t really discuss perseverance until we face some critical issues about suffering.

For the new people joining us, let's review how I defined suffering in an earlier blog.

I once heard suffering defined by my one of the godly spiritual models of our day for women, and my mentor, Elisabeth Elliot, as follows: anything that you want that you don’t have, and anything that you have that you don’t want. Put that way, I dare say that everyone reading falls into that category in one way or another. So why is there suffering in the world?

Suffering is part of the human condition and first entered the world when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. No one is exempt from suffering—not even children. Because it is part of life to suffer, while we are on planet earth, we will suffer. Christians are not exempt from suffering. We may try to protect and shield our children from suffering, but we will not be entirely successful—for to be human means we will face pain and suffering.

While we as Christians cannot avoid pain and suffering, we have been given the Word of God and God’s grace to face suffering completely differently from the world’s response to suffering.  Because we have God’s truth and His Spirit living in us, by His grace we can face the pain in our lives that comes from that “thing we don’t want, or that thing we want that we don’t have” with faith and joy.

When we exhibit His joy and a deep faith in Christ amidst undesirable, difficult circumstances (that we would never have asked for!) instead of bitterness, anger, a vengeful spirit, or a complete loss of faith—we radiant Christ’s victory over our circumstances. Our circumstances may or may not change, but God’s grace is always there and available to us— as the constant well of life, increasing our faith and joy in Him.

Endurance is very similar to perseverance (and patience), but is an even more mature characteristic. Endurance includes continuing to stand in spite of pain, fatigue, difficulties, obstacles, distress or any hardship.

Okay, so how can we pack up perseverance into a meaningful sentence?  (You may want to put the following definitions on a 3 x 5 card in your car, bathroom mirror, etc with the scripture below as a reminder) Perseverance is continuing toward a God-given goal in spite of the obstacles. “Perseverance is knowing God’s love is more powerful than the obstacles evil people put in our way.” (~Dave and Neta Jackson)

Remember, Can ANYTHING separate us from God’s love? Listen to Romans 8:35,37:

“Can anything separate us from the love Christ has for us? Can troubles or problems or sufferings...No, in all these things we have the victory through God who showed His love for us.”

I’d like for you to take a few minutes to think on this: what obstacles in your life are keeping you from a God-given goal?

We’ll pick right back up next Monday with perseverance by looking at what the writer of Hebrews penned under inspiration of the Holy Spirit to help us in a practical way to persevere in our daily life. Until then, I’m praying for you dear friend—that somehow God can use my simple blog to seed God’s Word in you, and make a tangible difference in your life.

I love what George Washington Carver said. He was a fine, Christian man who loved God who overcame many obstacles in his life. He helped his fellow man immensely through his contribution to science which helped the southern farmer from losing everything through his many products developed from the sweet potato and the peanut.

He faced many injustices in his life, many just because of color of his skin. A godly, humble, wise man, George said, "If I used my energy to right every wrong done to me, I would have no energy left for my work."

Helen Keller, was was completely blind and deaf, said that we would lose "rewarding joy if thre were no limitations to overcome."

Don't these people inspire you who do not let "limitations" guide their lives? They encourage me to persevere.

I am on day 6 of laryngitis. (very hard for us talkers!!!!!) That is NOTHING compared to what these people faced. But today, even in that, they remind me to persevere and trust God.

I have more I want you to know about the above people and others. Pray photos will work again on my software. It quit today. We all need to persevere! See you on the blog tomorrow, Lord willing! I am praying for you!

Walk by Faith,

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