Stop Stopping Suffering
It is the western culture in me that looks at suffering and needs to stop it. We spend millions of dollars trying to bring an end to suffering. Our medical culture has become pill crazy in am effort to fix the suffering of people. Something is wrong with our mind set. Something is amiss.
Everybody suffers. I am not talking about the degree of suffering but the idea that we all suffering, going through the trouble of life. It doesn’t matter the social or economic standing, we face the same trials and suffering as one another. From sickness and health to financial and mental suffering. But then there is a special suffering… a suffering like Christ. (1 Peter 4:13)
Oswald Chambers says “It is only through our relationship with Jesus Christ that we can understand what God is after in His dealings with us. When it comes to suffering, it is part of our Christian culture to want to know God’s purpose beforehand.” Boy isn’t that the truth? We want to know what is going on before we go through with something. “Is it worth the trouble?” I can hear my heart cry out to God for comfort before the suffering has begun.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 Paul is talking about the difference between suffering and comfort.
We often try and stop suffering but forget to offer comfort. As usual I believe it is our pride and self centered arrogance that dupes us into thinking we are being biblical. We are instructed to offer comfort and let God alleviate the suffering.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 NLT
Paul is about to share in his suffering, but he starts with the first things first.
1. Proper praise and worship of the Lord.
The first thing we should do in a situation where we are called to work with those that are suffering is to give praise and recognition to Father God.
I hate to see someone suffering. How often do we reach that point where the shirt is off our back and our pantry is empty and THEN we turn to God and ask him for help. How often we fail this basic step so often jumping in and putting our muscle, money and goods to work rather than approaching God for his instruction
2. Remember our own affliction and what happened to us.
The second observation in this passage is that we need to remember our own history. When we jump in our rescue mode we can overlook how God used our suffering to produce fruit in our lives.
He comforts us so that we can comfort others.
We need to get a godly perspective on our own suffering and change the mindset with which we look at the world. We talk about having the same mind of Christ, but in reality we are so very different in our own intentions rather than the Father’s.
How often we look at wealth and stability and think, “God is blessing me” But in reality the blessings of God have nothing to do with money just as the lack of financial blessing does not point to a withdraw of the spirit.
There are trials and sufferings that teach us. We find that when we go tot he Word we can find a clearer picture of the suffering Christian. In a quote from J.C. Ryle the observation of the proper response to suffering should be in prayer.
Trials are intended to make us think, to wean us from the world, to send us to the Bible, to drive us to our knees.
3. We are supposed to endure together
What a sweeter thing to do with a brother or sister in Christ but to join with them in their current suffering. I know that one of the best times of prayer for the spirit to speak to the heart is often one of prayer. Listening to the prayers of saints together we can face times of persecution and times where we need grace.
In closing, the help comes from God not from us. We can lose sight of this fact as we run to put out the fire, or take care of the latest drama in our church. Don’t get me wrong, when the bells are ringing signalling the fire we need to be there, we need to comfort, we need to pray, we need to batten down the spiritual hatches and take care of this as we have been instructed in the word.
I recently heard a devotional that we need Christ. Christ’s love, sympathy and support and with that we can face any trial and grow into the fruit producer we have been designed to be!
Our present griefs are so entirely absorbed in him that soften by his love, soothed by his sympathy, supported by his grace. Trial is welcome. Affliction is sweet. The rod of a father’s chastening, buds and blossoms into delectable fruit. –Octavius Windslow