Power in Suffering
by Daren Mitchell
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Suffering is the human condition. Every person at some point will suffer in some way. There is not one human being who is exempt from difficult and trying times. Death comes to us all, and to our loved ones, in various ways and age. The power we can have through suffering is a gift from Jesus. His power is made evident in the life of a follower who is suffering; the evidence is discovered in the followers endurance, perseverance, and joy. For many this power remains dormant through seasons of suffering because we simply give in to the temptation to submit to the pain whether emotional, physical or both, instead of to God and give up our faith, and/or we tend to blame God, and we also worry about things we have no control over.
Consider what happened to Job. All of Job's possessions are destroyed; 1000 livestock stolen, 7000 of his sheep were burned up by a ‘fire from the sky’ possibly a reference to lightning, or maybe it was a literal fire, Job’s 3000 camels were also stolen, and his oldest son’s house collapsed during a windstorm killing all of Job’s kids who were inside at the time.
Job doesn’t succumb to the same temptations than many people do. He didn’t give up on His faith in God, he never blamed or cursed God but instead he shaves his head, tears his clothes and proclaims "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will return: The Lord has given, and Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of Lord."
Let’s take a moment to see how like Job we can claim power through suffering. For some this truth will have an immediate impact because of suffering being endured in the moment. For others, you might store this deep in your heart, because you will at some point in your human experience endure seasons of suffering.
Never under any circumstances give up faith in God and in His power
Suffering is one vehicle that allows us an opportunity to display the power of God in our lives by how we react to it. If we respond to our suffering with undeterred faith, endurance and joy, and we showcase the power of the Holy Spirit as we are given strength and comfort we are providing an unparalleled testimony to those in our circle of influence of our undying devotion to Jesus and the Father.
The Thessalonian Christians were enduring unbearable persecution. Paul had planted churches all over Asia minor and one place he planted a church was in Thessalonica. He warned each church he started that persecution would soon follow, and it always did. Here's how Paul says they endured. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.
Refuse the temptation to blame God
I don't know if it's a sinful thing to blame God for bad stuff but I know that you can't blame God and praise Him at the same time. And followers praise God all the time. Blame is the opposite of praise; you can’t praise God and blame him for your suffering at the same time.
What might be needed more than anything else in our churches today is a shift in our perspective about God. He alone is worthy of our praise and admiration. Our very existence both physical and eternal is dependent on His mercy. God does not depend on us. We need to understand that God is love and we like to talk about that part of His nature, but, this God allowed His own Son to die a cruel death by execution on a cross as a common criminal. Why would a dad who loves His Son allow that to happen if he had the power to stop it?
Because God hates sin; He hates your sin. Sin brought death into the world because sin cannot co-exist in His presence. He denies unrepentant sinners access to His holy place. Even those who go to church and volunteer to teach Sunday School can't live with God in heaven unless they are repentant of their sin. Sin defiles heaven and God won’t allow heaven to be defiled. Jesus Christ is the only way that a sinner like you and I have any access at all to God. You should fear God. I hope you have a healthy respect for who God is and His hate for sin and death. He is the creator of the Universe a righteous force who is intolerant of disobedience. You stand no chance of God’s justice unless Jesus Christ is between you. God is not to blame for our suffering, sin is. God is worthy of our praise because when we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Romans 5:6
When we worry we demean or lessen the power of God
Worry is nothing more than saying, “hey God, I know you said You were there for me and You are going to take care of my needs and You have provided me an escape from eternal death through Jesus, but, I’m not sure I really believe it; but thanks anyway”
Jesus made a special point to teach His followers that we should not be worried or anxious about anything. God's got this. That's what we need to know. This is the genesis of our faith in Jesus. No one or nothing can separate us from the love God. And no one or nothing can take your soul if you have given your life in obedience to Jesus. No matter what it is you are dealing with if you belong to Jesus through faith and obedience, you will live in His place for eternity. His best friend said, "I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life."
There is power in suffering. That power is revealed to the world around us when we hold on to our faith, we praise God instead of blaming Him, and we fix our attention on what is eternal rather than worry about what will happen tomorrow.
Do you believe in this power? How does understanding that you will go to heaven when you die help with your suffering?
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