Suffering Well in Hard Times
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Suffering well requires learning how to return to joy from the injustices and pain of life. Suffering well in Hard Times is not just for us. It’s for others too.
The deepest things that I have learned in my own life have come from the deepest suffering. And out of the deepest waters and the hottest fires have come the deepest things that I know about God.Elizabeth Elliot
In Hard Times
Sometimes bad stuff happens. Even to the innocent. As I tried to make sense of all the pain, I was left with one question for God: Why?!
For years the Dr has been telling me that I need to reduce my stress levels. I tried; I am trying! But it’s hard as waves crash on you, knocking you down. As soon as you find your footing another wave comes racing towards you. I can’t seem to out run the sea.
It’s hard to get thru these rough patches in life. The tunnel with no light at its end. It’s more than a rough patch, sometimes it’s like I’m watching my life as it’s blazing out of control. Heartbroken. Exhausted. While the person that started the fire is still fanning the flames.
Others stand watch, neutral to the pain that was caused. Quiet church mice. Watching it burn. No matter my pleas for help. Neutral. Which adds to the suffocating smoke that swirls about me.
All smiles and niceness to the one holding the struck match, but words of “keep your heart pure before God” and “it takes two” to the one trying to stop the fire from spreading further.
Isaiah 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
God Has a Purpose for the Pain
I’ve been here before. This same lesson. This is just a different version of it. 2.0, maybe?
What I’ve learned, what no one can teach, is to think and respond to the aftermath of this tornado.
No one can think for me. No one can choose for me where I allow my thoughts to settle. No one can ultimately decide which way I choose to go.
Personally, isolation and pushing others away feels warm and protective. But, I know it’s not … at the end of the day. It is cold and lonely.
Mental health is for all of us, because none of us are exempt from hardships. God created us as social beings. We need each other more than what our unnecessarily hectic lives allow.
Some may never know the pain of a spouse telling them that they never loved them, were not enough or the feeling of walking on egg shells as to not anger him. Or wondering if he had an affair…again.
Yet others still may have had to endure 10 times that and at deeper levels of pain than I could ever comprehend.
We all will have to walk thru fires. Your’s may be different than mine. But the flames are there for you to get through just the same.
How we get through the pain affects everything about us and even the lives around us to a certain extent.
Positive Mental health is for everyone. It’s for me. It’s for you to my friend.
So why is mental health not better understood?
It affects every person on the face of this planet. We have certainly failed ourselves. We are comfortable not knowing and passively watching till the fire consumes your own house and then you are the one crying out for help as others look on passively.
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
What does mental health look like for a Christian?
What God says about hard times
In hard times, it is being deeply rooted in Christ. Daily choosing to read the Bible, study it, and worshipping God. Even when you have to force yourself because the pain is telling you to give up.
In hard times, it’s reciting over and over bible verses of hope and God’s love and purpose for this battle. It’s knowing who God is and who you are because of Christ.
In hard times, it’s keeping our close circle of friends people who are also deeply rooted in Christ. So they know how and what to pray. They speak words we need to hear even tho we may not want to hear them. They make the phone calls, checking on us, when we’d rather slip out the back door.
It’s internationally being that friend that prays a hurting friend thru the mess.
In hard times, we must choose to have a better understanding of God; using the pain for good. Yes, it is completely is horrifying. I do not ever want to walk this road again. Yet it was necessary. Walking deeply rooted in Christ is a must! No way around it.
Understanding and reminding ourselves that there is a purpose for disaster. And if it’s for nothing more but to keep me clinging to God and out of Hell then this temporary pain was completely worth it.
“Mature people are those who learn to suffer well. Suffering well requires learning how to return to joy from the injustices and pain of life. Maturity is not something you develop in a day. There are no short cuts. I can’t simply choose to be mature any more than I can choose to lift 300 pounds or run a marathon. But there are choices I can make that will increase my capacity for joy. And the cumulative impact of those choices will go a long way toward growing a deeper walk with God.
Choosing joy requires capacity. Capacity requires hard work. It may not be easy. But it reaps rewards that are worth the effort.”
—Dr. Marcus Warner
Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
“Unexpected turbulence in life does not naturally overflow in bright hope and selfless love. Apart from grace, suffering makes us impatient, selfish, and despairing. We withdraw, turn inward, and are less concerned with (or even aware of) the needs of others. We often cannot see beyond the darkness we feel.
But the grace of God goes to work to create the opposite impulses, especially in suffering. Suffering was not a distraction, inconvenience, or detour for Paul, but a breakthrough for what he cared most about: the spread of the gospel and the glory of Jesus.” – Desiring God
Someone needs to see you suffer well with Jesus. People need to see you clinging to his promises, treasuring his friendship, and praising his name when life is falling in on you. Some may not know how much they need to see you endure because their suffering hasn’t come yet. But it will. And when it comes, they will remember the saints who they have seen suffer well. – Marshall Segal
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