When Suffering Lasts …

PainThis past weekend, the final point of my message, “Your Pain is NOT Fruitless,” was “Remember, the pit only lasts for a bit.” (You can find the entire message here.) The point being that difficult/hard times in life come in seasons. The key to dealing with these seasons is to remember that they are only a season and “seasons” don’t last forever.

 I was talking to a pastor friend about the message, and he said, “Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it will ever end.” As I thought about his words, it occurred to me that for some dear people, the “season” of suffering or struggle (the “time in the pit” from the message) will last for the rest of this earthly life. From our human perspective, that sure seems like forever. I realized that for all of us we will reach a point in life (sooner or later) when, at least some portion of the struggles we face, will be with us until we die. What do we do then? What do we do when the season doesn’t end?

 Perhaps the most important thing we can do is maintain our perspective. If you think in terms of micro (small scale) and macro (large scale), our entire life is filled with micro-seasons … good times and bad times that happen for a variety of reasons. These good and bad micro-seasons come and go. However, our entire life is itself a micro-season that will eventually come to an end, and we will move into another macro-season which is Heaven. Some of life’s suffering will not cease during this lifetime. That is in keeping with our understanding that all healing in this life is temporary. Only the ultimate healing in Heaven will be complete and last forever. 

 Another critical thing to remember when a season of struggle goes on and on (or doesn’t end in this lifetime) it the Biblical concept of gratitude. Rejoice always! 17 Pray constantly. 18 Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) One of the reasons the Bible teaches us to be people of gratitude is the fact that life gets heavier and heavier. What I mean is that this is a sinful and fallen world. Over the course of our lifetimes (no matter how long that may be), there is an accumulation of hurts, painful memories, and illnesses (among other things) that take a toll on our hearts and minds. God’s WORD instructs us to practice gratitude because giving thanks is powerful. Thanksgiving has the power to cut through the ugly parts of life to help us see our blessings. When we recognize our blessings, that awareness alone can create a micro-season of joy and peace. Gratitude is powerful, and we MUST practice it in the hard times, so we are skilled “givers of thanks” when the times are more difficult.

 When we practice gratitude, we can realize the truth of 2 Corinthians 1. This powerful section of scripture (that speaks of the struggles and heartaches of the Apostle Paul) reminds us that when we struggle, God, himself is there to comfort us and help us through our hurts. Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4) In fact, even as He helps us through the painful times on our lives, He is also preparing us to help others. The efficiency and single-mindedness of our God is incredible. He doesn’t waste anything … especially our pain.

 That brings me to my final thought. When we move through this life with its mountain-tops and deep valleys, our God reminds us that HE has a purpose for us, our lives and even our struggles. At the heart of who we are is the reality that we are children of God. His love never leaves us. And His purpose for us is always good, even if what we are enduring is terrible. Never forget: You are God’s masterpiece! He created you and re-created you with purpose … for now (whatever the circumstances) and eternity!We may not always see His goal, but we can trust His love for us. Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know Him. Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed.  We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him as He is. (1 John 3:1, 2)

Here is a beautiful song by Matthew West named “Mended.”

And one of my all-time favorites, MercyMe singing, “Flawless.”

 

 

 

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