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Responding to those having 'thorns' that will not be remedied
Not For Sale
In this life, we will become interconnected with those enduring challenges in life that will not be remedied, 'fixed,' or resolved in any fast, quick, or secure fashion.
We cannot pray away many life difficulties, nor can we coldly quote scriptures, give platitudes, throw out a cliché, or be glib to another who is having to persevere each day with some sort of 'thorn' in their lives.
We don't have to have all the answers or to find solutions to every issue, problem and difficulty when counseling/advising/ministering/serving others. We often will not know how to approach many things we or others experience in the difficulties of life.
We can all think of someone being impacted by some long-term adversity or difficulty. Whether it is yourself, a loved one, friend, associate, or another person, each one of us will come face to face with those experiencing lifelong difficulties that are not able to be remedied in any realistic means.
I have listed some of those circumstances briefly as follows.
Family members experiencing terminal illnesses. Those having a loved one incarcerated for a lengthy sentence. Those enduring lifelong mental health conditions. Those living with lifelong chronic diseases. Those caring for aging parents. Those partnered with abusive persons; addictions (alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, sexual, food, etc.) Those having children with mental health and/or physical conditions. Those having loved ones with intellectual/developmental conditions.
Whatever one's predicament, we cannot eliminate the path or journey another must walk in experiencing suffering in the midst of many of life's challenges. Scriptures are full of stories depicting the intense struggles and suffering of persons of faith.
If you read your bible, the book of Psalms is full of stories expressive of the diverse emotions we experience in this life. The bible states that even Jesus suffered - and in His suffering, He learned obedience to Father's call to love - the greatest of gifts.
"Even though Jesus was God’s Son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered." Hebrews 5:8
If Jesus suffered, how much more will we experience suffering as humans?
Often the only answer to life's many challenges is to become present in difficulty. We give solace by providing the gift of one's friendship and offer comfort through attentive listening.
We try to encourage in whatever way possible by; giving a meal, sitting quietly, praying, sending a card, giving an invite, sipping tea/coffee together, enjoying some relaxing activity, providing respite in the caretaking.
I am sure you can add more suggestions of ways to consider how to give aide to one struggling.
We offer a presence of love amid long term issues in providing empathy, someone to vent to, a shoulder to cry on, an attentive attitude, a willingness to stay in it for the long haul, and openness in adhering to the Spirit and a desire to be Christ-centered in becoming God's Heart.
It is easy to talk of love, but it becomes another task to walk in love with another in tough circumstances and in challenging situations that do not and will not go away.
Charles Spurgeon was a great theologian, preacher and was known to be a deep man of Faith. Many wrongly assumed he lived a life of peace, contentment and prosperity, but he carried heavy burdens throughout his ministry. Spurgeon frequently battled depression and physical pain, causing him much suffering. He was often ill, spending weeks agonizing in bed.
Spurgeon, just like the rest of us, had many weaknesses. He had his doubts, anxieties, and battled with varying emotions. He openly wrestled with the tension between being holy and being human. He was also attacked by other Christians in all he endured (just like many are today).
But Spurgeon knew the God He served specialized in using imperfect humans, and he was able to be openly honest and truthful about how he suffered and his emotional responses. Christians throughout the ages have struggled too, and so do we today.
It is far easier for us to accept a holy God who hates our sin than it is for us to really believe he can use flawed, weak, or ill persons to fulfill His perfect design.
Whether from the experiences of individuals such as Spurgeon, we are all confronted with this same tension between the pursuit of the Holy and our humanity.
Jesus told Paul after he pleaded for God to remove his suffering from some 'thorn' in his flesh; "My power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. 12:9) Paul responded, "I will boast in my weakness all the more so that Christ's power rests on me.... for when I am weak, then I am strong."
The power of grace is not found in denying, dismissing, ignoring, rejecting difficulties or chronic states of being. The power of grace is in discovering our inability and our need to press deeper into God's ability.
To carry out His redemptive purposes in our lives and in the lives of those we interconnect with, we must by necessity be centered in His Spirit of love as our response and our choice - in the struggles.
Spurgeon once wrote: "The Lord frequently appears to save his heaviest blows for his loved ones; if anyone affliction is more painful than another, it falls to the lot he most distinguishes in his service. The gardener prunes his best roses with most care. (Discipline) is sent to keep successful saints humble, to make them tender towards others, and to enable them to bear the high honors which their heavenly Friend puts upon them."
In reading the book of Job, scriptures portray a man suffering horrific affliction, which was permitted by God (read the book of Job if you doubt me). Job’s friends accused him of having hidden sin. His wife rejected him. Society judged and condemned him.
Job was left to battle not only his painful, agonizing condition, loss of his entire family, but also found himself having to fend off accusations from those nearest him, causing Job compounded suffering and pain. He felt as though he was in a bottomless dark pit alone and forgotten by God too.
Have you ever felt like God has deserted you?
But when Job sought God, He discovered God remained Faithful in the battle, in the struggle, in the intensity of his adversity.
May we be mindful as we administer Christ's love as sent ones in a world full of difficulties where there are no easy answers, and no quick sure cures, God's love becomes our answer. His love becomes the active agent in our thoughts, hearts, and souls spurring us onward to give comfort from His divine nature infused in us - as our holy response to others.
This is not a popular stance in the body of believers.
Many want to claim, declare, demand and command God to heal and if the person does not become healed then they are blamed for ‘not having enough faith’ or having ‘sin in their life,’ and some are often cast out of fellowships due to those misguided beliefs.
I believe in God's power to heal as I have received miraculous healing myself. But when God chooses to not heal, to not deliver, and does not remedy some 'thorn' in one's life, our holy choice is to continue offering love as our Christian response.
We do not succumb to the world's way of reacting to another in heaping burning coals on someone whose life is full of difficulties, and we do not reject, ostracize, ignore, or exclude them. This is not godly. This is not showing forth caring or compassion, nor is it exemplifying God's Heart - who is always lovingly responding to us and to others.
Regardless of circumstances or difficulties one experiences, it is not in our knowing we become love; it is in our learning to surrender all to the Holy One whose name is Jesus Christ. He is sovereign, supreme, omnipresent and desires to manifests and display God's love in all we experience.
When we choose a lifestyle of making faith-choices aligning in God's truth and step into His unlimited Grace, we encounter the gift of Christ's sufficient love as our source in pain and sorrow.
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