Monday, October 27, 2014

Learning from Suffering; Why We Suffer

If the news tells us anything, it's that we live in a world of suffering.  There is ebola, cancer, wars, shootings, riots and suicide.  Every day we see and hear about people suffering.  In many cases, we don't need to look beyond our own lives to see sickness or pain or suffering.  A friend and good man is having surgery as I write for an abscess in his lung.  He has been suffering for a while as they try to figure out what is going on.  His wife and family are suffering as they wait to see how things go.  Friends have cancer, other friends have trouble with kids, finances and jobs.  I am stuck at home while recovering from surgery, and I had some suffering I had to go through in my ordeal.

We suffer in a lot of ways, and as long as we live in this earth, we will have to deal with suffering of various types.  Sometimes physical, mental, spiritual or emotional, usually a combination of these.  Suffering comes along with our ability to make choices and choose our behavior.  God allows us the freedom to act how we choose too, thus creating the reality of suffering.  If I choose to drink so much that I get very drunk, then drive and get in a wreck, I live with the consequences.  I and others can be made to suffer because of a choice I made.  It's part of our freedom in this sinful world, that God doesn't stop us from making decisions, even the ones that grieve His heart.

The other reality is that we need suffering.  We need to experience trials and hard times in order to be mature, to gain wisdom and learn patience and goodness.  Think about it, a young adult who has been given everything, never had a hard time and never suffered, how do they behave?  People who never struggle or suffer are usually selfish and impatient and rude and often hateful.  Suffering and pain in a great equalizer, it puts everyone on level ground.  Sickness, hurt and heartache or pain shows no partiality for ethnicity, income, social status.  Everyone suffers and everyone can relate to suffering.

The reality is that bad things don't happen to good people.  People aren't good, and things that are not pleasant don't exist as good or bad, they are just realities of this life.  Things happen to make people good people.  We learn faith and hope and perverseness through adversity.  We learn to be more like Christ because of the struggles and trials.  This is why Paul tells us to rejoice as we face trials.  The trials are going to cause us to be more like Christ.  In the end, that is all that really matters.  In eternity, it won't matter how well we did, or how much hurt we had to endure, but our relationship with Christ will.  Rejoice when you suffer, for God is giving you opportunity to invest in eternity.

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