Are you ever suffering alone?
Are you ever suffering alone? You may think, how can I survive my suffering? Certainly survival is a goal for all of us because to some degree at some unwelcome time we will suffer again. You may be suffering now. As Pastor D.A. Carson points out, “All you have to do is live long enough and you’ll suffer.” Have you considered how individualized suffering can be? Our tolerance for suffering is uniquely personal. We all have different thresholds with which we try to manage our pain and suffering, suffering coming from physical, emotional or spiritual sources. In helping manage the pain of others, empathy may be simply defined as “your pain in my heart,” but we aren’t always so good at acknowledging suffering or relieving it in others. Stimuli impact us differently. For some things we may be better prepared than others, so we don’t hurt at all or perhaps suffer to a lesser degree. Sometimes we know what to anticipate from pain and we can possibly be better prepared to survive it.
We need to be prepared for pain and suffering. But can we be? Living in a fallen world, we know it will come. Preparation helps brace us for the abrupt encounters with suffering that seem to come unexpectedly. We need to be trained prior to suffering, no matter if it be physical, emotional or spiritual, so that we may be fully sustained through suffering. We are often assaulted with deceptive feelings when we suffer. Feelings such as being “abandoned by God” or wondering “why me” or “what did I do to “deserve” this?” Let’s be clear, we aren’t talking karma here. We probably all have “felt” at some time that God “abandoned” us, or at least was “far away.”
We must anchor ourselves to the truth of God’s word and character and resist living by feelings (sight) in these times. Comparing our suffering with those who we suppose have it even worse than us is not much help. Yet there will always be One whose suffering was more devastating than our own, that of our Savior when in Gethsemane as well as on the cross, and His suffering was in part so that we would never, never suffer alone. Christ endured that terror so that he might say honestly to you and me, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Heb.13:5) Let us not make him out to be a liar. He is present with us. Only God knows what he has rescued us from over our lives, but we know by his word that when he doesn’t remove a suffering event from us, he is accompanying us on the journey through it so we can endure it and stand afterwards. “No temptation (trial) has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted (tried) beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted (tried), he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. “( 1 Cor. 10:13)
Do you remember at the close of Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane God sent an angel to strengthen him? In the depth of our suffering God did not send an angel, but instead came Himself through the Spirit of Christ to minister to us. He is always present, and we need for that to become sufficient for us. When we cry, our cries need to be out to Him and done so with a complete confidence of his nearness. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need “ – – – in our dark hour of suffering. This doesn’t mean it will not hurt and that the pain quickly disappears. It means we may be confident that we can press into a God who cares and is within us if not beside us. Concentrating on the object of our faith draws our focus to the One who has the capacity to manage the intensity of our suffering. At times there will be no other reason for our suffering other than mysteriously for the glory of God. May the world then see a difference byour peace in Him and dependence upon Him. Think About It.