Meditations on Suffering

God is “a very present help in trouble.” But He permits trouble to pursue us, as though He were indifferent to its overwhelming pressure, that we may be brought to the end of ourselves, and led to discover the treasure of darkness, the unmeasurable gains of tribulation. We may be sure that He who permits the suffering is with us in it. It may be that we shall see Him only when the trial is passing, but we must dare to believe that He never leaves the crucible. Our eyes are holden, and we cannot behold Him whom our soul loveth. It is dark–the bandages blind us so that we cannot see the form of our High Priest; but He is there, deeply touched. Let us not rely on feeling, but on faith in His unswerving fidelity; and though we see Him not, let us talk to Him. Directly we begin to speak to Jesus, as being literally present, though His presence is veiled, there comes an answering voice which shows that He is in the shadow, keeping watch upon His own. Your Father is as near when you journey through the dark tunnel as when under the open heaven! –Daily Devotional Commentary

I love devotional writings from the old Saints. This is from Streams in The Deserts a devotional that complies its contents from other devotionals, sermons, poems, and hymns. I have bolded what I want to journal about.

God allows things in my life that will bring me to end of myself so I can stop being reliant on myself. I’m been thinking so much about suffering lately. So much! God has been gracious leading me to wonderful writings and teachings about it all. I’ve been listening to a lot of Elisabeth Elliot’s teaching lately. I like her frankness and how her teachings bend me to be surrendered and submitted to God’s will for my life.

I’ve also been meditating on Psalm 131 and reading a lot of commentaries on this particular psalm. The psalm is about David comparing himself to an infant who is either weaned from his mother’s milk or who has just been fed. It’s about quietly trusting God. I have been an infant before God but usually a wailing infant. Full of questions and with my fists balled up. This infant, however, is calm and quiet. This is how David describes his soul, as a baby quiet and satisfied with its mother’s care. He also talks about how he isn’t arrogant nor does he try to understand the things of God. I can’t help but think about the account Jesus put a child in the midst of Himself and His bickering disciples(Matt 18:1; Mark 9:34). They were arguing about who was to be the greatest in the kingdom of God. Jesus said that anyone who would make himself as the child in Jesus’s hands would be the greatest in heaven.

God allows the suffering, and He never leaves us in it by ourselves. I think about the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. God permitted this predicament and sent someone or Himself from heaven to be in the furnace with them.

“Let us not rely on feelings but on faith”- The devotional writer (Dr. Lawrence Richards) writes that although we can’t see God in our trials doesn’t mean He isn’t there.

No one wants to suffer, but no child of God suffers alone. God has graced me for this journey into suffering. He’s discerned my thoughts from afar and answered my lingering questions. I’ve been through the ‘why’s’ and I’m now at a place of, ‘okay’ and growing a peace about it.

I had been fearful about the future knowing suffering was involved in it. But, I lay down those fears and eat the slice of bread given to me by God and let tomorrow’s troubles not worry or discourage me today.

Lastly, Saints let us not believe in a Gospel that doesn’t include our crosses and suffering. There is only one true Gospel of Jesus Christ of course. But there are many man-made ideologies about a God who either wants you to have every earthly reward (prosperity gospel). And, when we lack Bible reading and comprehension we tend to make our own god. The only way we can ever hope to know the one, true living God is to read His word. We can believe in a god of our own making or believe in the God of the Bible.

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Why God Sends Us Afflictions

***I’ve been busy writing something pretty special, so just to keep my blog updated with content I’m going to share some of my personal journal entries. I hope you enjoy.***

Lately, I’ve found myself getting frustrated with Scriptures. Yesterday, I posted on social media how the Bible is a treasure. While sitting here today the Holy Spirit. reminded me of that saying. The thing is I know there are innumerable treasures to be found in Scriptures, often I just don’t want to dig. Sigh. I’ve been mostly reading the NT epistles and the book of Psalm. I find there is treasure above ground with this books/sections. Ugh. I can’t be a lazy Bible reader. I was reading the Book of Job, Elihu statements about God. A lot of the gospel in that. A lot of God’s redeeming power toward the Saints.

He delivers the afflicted by their affliction and opens their ear by adversity Job 36:16

God uses what we would rather not experience, to save us. I can’t help but think about the affliction God so sovereignly planned for me. Eczema. I couldn’t explain away these splotches, or no cream could save me. I used to be so itchy I couldn’t sleep at night. I remember I had joined a Reddit board of eczema-sufferers and poured through a lot of posts. I was seeking a remedy. Well, one day a young lady posted she’d been meditating on healing Bible verses. And, while I wasn’t interested in the Bible, out of desperation I was like ‘sign me up.’ Then, I found how people believed unrepressed anger could manifest itself in various diseases, including eczema. And, I was ANGRY. I was angry at God for allowing my Mom to die. I had stuff pent up on the inside of me that happened when I was in Elementary school. I always thought it’s better to keep it inside than to be confrontational about anything. I thought I was BETTER than those who ranted and raved. I thought anger was ugly and I wanted to avoid it COMPLETELY.

Most of those people recommended therapy and all sorts of new age things. I’m not saying therapy isn’t helpful, it is. But, as a Christian, I now know that He is the remedy. He remedied my skin that felt like it was on fire. He remedied repressed anger, that I didn’t have enough time, money or skills to deal with or compartmentalize. My spirit was like a stuffed closet, full of mostly anger. All the advice I saw online was for me to attempt to pull stuff out, and put it in neater. Only God could have rid me of repressed anger.

So, I know God will use the most difficult times in our lives to open our eyes, draw us near and to save us. No one likes suffering, but it’s the best remedy. We need to be saved from the pit, we need to draw near to God and we need for God to open our eyes. And, I hope not to speak as if suffering is behind me. We will leave it behind us for good when we enter heaven’s gates.