There are moments in our lives that penetrate us to the core. They shake our very foundation. They make us question our beliefs and our values. They change our perspective. They strengthen and mature our faith. They help define us and shape us into the people God wants us to become. Spiritual growth often comes at great personal cost. Jesus said to take up our crosses and follow after Him. To live is Christ and to die is gain. It is through our trials and suffering that we often feel closest to God. Our relationship with Him deepens. We feel ourselves falling away as God catches us with outstretched arms and great love. We may even feel He is recreating us through these moments into something better and as part of a larger picture of His plans for this earth. Ultimately, we can look back on these moments in our lives and say that we would not have wished for pleasure over suffering because of how those circumstances shaped our faith into what it is today.
It can be very hard to see what God is doing in your life through trials and tribulation. No one likes to feel pressed down on every side. We long to come up for fresh air, breathe a sigh of relief and move on. God has ordered every step of our lives. He sometimes wants us to walk through dark valleys and feel the downpour of a storm. We may never know the reasons why in this life. It doesn’t hurt to stop and ask God what He wants you to learn from your circumstances. You can even ask God to search your heart and see if there is anything unclean within it. When He instructs you and shows you, embrace it. Listen to Him speak to your heart. Let His words pierce your mind, settle into your heart and guide your actions. Repent from all that is unholy and unworthy in your life and walk anew in the plans God has for you. Then rest in Him and watch the blessings and opportunities for spiritual growth unfold.
When we experience suffering in our lives, we should remember to share it with God. So often we like to wallow in the mud–miserable, dirty and wet–playing the Woe is Me card. Sometimes we do everything we can to drag others into the mud with us for awhile. We stew in our problems while failing to see how God is using them to redefine us and mold us into His image. If you are angry with God because of what has happened to you, tell Him first and foremost. Let Him be the first to hear how you feel. Don’t hold back anything. Just pour out your frustrations to Him. You will feel so much better once you do! You can do this verbally and audibly through prayer and/or write it as a journal entry or a letter. Whatever you do, don’t hold it all in. And don’t let other flawed and imperfect human beings be the first to know and the first to influence your next steps. Let God know exactly how you feel. It may take days, weeks and even months to let all of your feelings surface. When they do, give them to God. Cast your burdens over to Him and feel the weight lift from your shoulders.
If you have experienced loss, you may feel full of sorrow and grief for a period of time. I am personally letting myself feel the full weight of my grief right now as I come to accept my two recent pregnancy losses and the knowledge that I may never bear children through natural means. I know everything is “Himpossible” despite the best medical information. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day were the hardest days of this year for me. I don’t think I have ever cried so hard. With these days so close together, I felt a huge outpouring of grief. The sorrow was so intense at times that I felt immobilized. I just wanted to be alone with my sorrow. I had to give myself time to let grief take its course. You will probably feel a need to do the same. During this time of sorrow, you are never completely alone–even though you may feel like it from time to time. God will hold you close, and He will whisper to you. He never leaves us nor forsakes us, even when we aren’t quite feeling like ourselves. His love will embrace you and His scriptures will be a healing balm to your heart and soul. Apply this healing balm to your heart, mind and soul everyday. Let God’s Word speak to you through your sorrow. Let the Holy Spirit help you express yourself to God. Sometimes all we can do is groan, but the Holy Spirit will translate our groans into prayers heard in heaven.
Perhaps the best way to gain closure after we have experienced suffering is to hold onto hope. Without hope, what do we have to cling to for our future? Jesus’ death and resurrection gives us the hope of eternal life. No matter how awful or how wonderful our circumstances are here on Earth, we can rest assured that heaven is free of pain, suffering, trials and tribulation. Pleasure and suffering last only a brief moment, but the splendor of heaven will last forever! Our time here on Earth is short, but our lives in heaven continues for eternity. The hope of our salvation should be enough to help us at least get through our day. God’s Word gives us hope. All scriptures are inspired by God Himself. The Bible is His love letter to us. Immersing yourself in the Word of God when you are in pain and experience suffering will help breathe life back into your weary bones. God’s Word lifts us up off of the floor and helps us once again stand on two feet. God’s Word can cleanse our minds and our hearts and shape how we view our current circumstances and our future outlook. Letting other Christians have a glimpse of your pain can provide hope too. At first it may just be a warm meal to feed you, then a hug to comfort you, followed by words to encourage you, and lastly resources to help guide you. Don’t be afraid to let others who walk in God’s love and Truth help you. God expects us to share in one another’s burdens, lend a helping hand, and provide arms outstretched demonstrating His love, compassion and mercy. God Himself gives us hope. Repeat the names of God. His is our Counselor, our Healer, our Prince of Peace…the list goes on! Knowing just how much greater God is than our problems reminds us that God has everything under His control and that He alone can do anything in our lives. He has a purpose and plan for our suffering and for how it will help lend itself to a greater good for the Kingdom of God. All to God be the glory! May every moment of our lives–those of pleasure and those of suffering–ultimately lead us to the throne of God.
Pray this prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for coming to Earth and dying for our sins so we have the hope of heaven. I am grateful for the suffering you experienced on my behalf. May you help me endure hardship when it comes my way. Help me to learn and grow from it. Let is strengthen my faith and deepen my relationship with you. Let it help me be a bold witness for Christ all the days of my life. Let it fill me with compassion and empathy for others who are suffering. Fill me with your love and hope and your promises for my future. Let your love and tender mercies heal my heart when it feels broken. Help me to lean upon You today and always. May all glory, honor and praise be unto Your holy and precious name forevermore. Amen.”
~~~~~~~ My brother came to town for a visit, but now that He has returned home I will continue my blog series this week on Worship Wars. May God bless you today and always as you walk in His abundant love!~~~~~~~