What is the most asked question on Google?
I stumbled upon an article on this topic and was curious. What was the burning question on everyone's mind???
If you know me, you'll know why I didn't even understand the question...it is:
What is my ip?
I admit that I didn't know that "ip" stands for "internet protocol". Over 3 million people ask this question every month. This question doesn't keep me up at night, but another one used to:
Is there any good purpose to suffering? or Why do good people suffer?
My life story is marked with joy, but it's also been marked by A LOT of suffering. I remember people telling me that God comforts us in our suffering, and my response was, "That's nice, but I'd rather be comfortable without the suffering...thank you very much."
I remember thinking that God had truly abandoned me. There is nothing so awful as thinking that the God of the Universe has given up on you and you are all alone in the mess. It's agonizing.
I went to get my flu shot and before me was a little girl getting her shot. Understandably, she was terrified. She wanted nothing to do with that needle. The more her mother tried to console her, the more she grew anxious. Upon injection, she let out an ear-piercing scream. It hurt! Why was the nurse hurting her, and why was her mother holding her still and just looking on?
Her mother didn't relish the anguish that her daughter was suffering, but because of her child's health concerns, she KNEW that the painful shot was the BEST thing for her delicate daughter.
Through suffering, I have learned that God is more concerned about my character than He is about my comfort.
He never wanted me to suffer, most of my life, with mental illness, but I have been plagued with anxiety and depression as far back as I can remember. I have had several despairing experiences wherein I seriously contemplated taking my own life because ANYTHING would be better than the intense suffering I was experiencing.
So what have I learned from this suffering?
1. How to pray for strength to endure. I KNOW what it is to persevere. A counselor once told me, "If 'Perseverance' was a course in school, you'd get an A+."
Not only that, but we also rejoice in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And HOPE does not disappoint us... (Romans 5:4-5a)
Hope is a byproduct of suffering, ironic, but true.
2. I've learned compassion for others and developed an intimate relationship with the Lord. Having gone through a season of six years marked by six major surgeries back to back, I have a compassion for others, that I know I would never have, had I not gone through such trials. Suffering has born in me an empathy that allows me to speak the love of Christ into other people's lives when they are suffering.
I also know, that suffering is the necessary crucible that refines me and it has taken me to the deepest levels of my faith. I know, without a doubt, that God is faithful to His promises. He is good. And, He will never leave me nor forsake me. I can look back and see how His righteous right hand has held me through it all. I would not have this confidence had it not been for the seasons of suffering.
3. It has built my hope in the future. Romans 12:12 foretells a time when "no resident will say, 'I am sick.'" A day is coming when God will cure chronic illnesses that are beyond the power of modern science to solve. We will be returned to our "youthful vigor."
I don't have a "bucket list" because I know that this life is fleeting. I'm not putting all my stock in the limited years I walk this earth. I know that the real living will be accomplished in eternity. This life is practice and a time of learning for what is ultimately to come.
4. It has helped me to experience true joy. God graciously gives me glimpses of the joy to come. After the suffering that came from being abandoned after 25+ years of marriage, I have joy and gratitude that I never could have experienced in my marriage of 5 years, had I not experienced the dark days of sadness. I thank God every single day for the blessing of my husband and the second chance at living in a covenant relationship that He's given me.
5. Struggling/suffering indicates the presence of Christ working in my life. When Christ is vibrantly at work in and through me, the enemy is furious. He wants to take me out. I have never felt so persecuted as when I have been doing the Lord's work. Working as the Executive Director of a Christian School that is bringing the hope of Jesus to orphans in the Middle East...you better believe I'm constantly under attack, but I'm called to take up my cross and follow Him.
If we follow Christ we will share in His suffering as well.
The dark brush strokes of suffering make the bright brush strokes of joy stand out more brilliantly.
God's omniscient and all-knowing mind knows everything. He is above ALL things, even evil. Even though some suffering "seems" to have no good purpose, an "all-good" God has a good purpose for everything.
God never desired suffering for us. He created a perfect world and man ushered in the presence of evil. We may suffer because of consequences of our sin or we may suffer for apparently no reason at all.
I DO KNOW that God can and will redeem every moment of suffering we experience and He will catch every tear that falls.
Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you and thank you that you are an all-knowing and good, good, Father. Your plans are plans for me to prosper, not to bring me harm. Help me to know, that even if I suffer, you will bring beauty from the ashes. Enable me to lean into you and to know, with all confidence, that you will never leave nor forsake me. Give me the strength and perseverance needed to walk THROUGH these trials with you. I cling to your righteous right hand. Thank you for the joy that you want to restore unto me. Give me faith and trust when I have doubts. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
What about you...do you question why you or others you love suffer? Do you want God to replace your doubts with belief? If you are suffering, what might God be at work accomplishing in your life? Do you trust His goodness? What lessons have you learned through suffering? Will you share?
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