Topic 15: Thriving in the midst of suffering?
Question: Based on what you know from the Bible & other sources (including the How People Grow reading), how (i.e., by what means) do you think a Christian can thrive in the midst of suffering? (Be sure to do more research into the issue. If the group cannot come to a consensus, feel free to have different group members each express their own opinions.)
Thriving in the Midst of Suffering
Thriving in the mist of suffering. Should Christians have to suffer even though they are connected to God spiritually? What is the gains of human suffering, and what can we all learn from suffering? In the following paragraphs we will learn the different types of suffering, ways people gain from the suffering, and the true reason that God allows us to suffer.
There are two types of suffering. There is therapeutic suffering and destructive suffering. Therapeutic suffering “tears down aspects of our character that need to be torn down. God [can use] therapeutic suffering to rebuild people from their fallen, crippled state” (Cloud and Townsend 107). Romans 5:3-5 states “…we rejoice in out sufferings because we know suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit…” (New International Version). Destructive suffering is totally outside God’s desire. Destructive suffering “inflicts evil on a person’s heart and soul. God can make good things happen out of out bad pain” (Cloud and Townsend 107).
Suffering helps people see what God is doing in their lives. When you pray to God for strength during times you are suffering or struggling with life and its pains, God tries and does everything in his power to help you in your time of need! When he helps you, you then see what he has done in your life since you have come to him and asking for help in time of need. God is so powerful, unique, different, un-human like because he can do all, he can do whatever we need him to do, if it is right and not against his commandments! Suffering sometimes helps people see what they are doing wrong in there lives especially if God did not help you or could not help you, but he always does what he can to help you, if you believe in him, follow him, pray to him, and follow his path for you! Suffering helps us as Christians or as non-Christians to see the path that God has for us, whether it is where we need redirection or just need a boost! He has a plan for all of us, and suffering can sometimes help us all realize our paths that he wants us to take! Suffering can be a wake up call to non-Believers of God, to which he shows us his way, the truth, and the only way to heaven! Ultimately, suffering shows all of God and how he is greatly involved in our lives! It also helps you see your growth and development in life.
In Romans 5:3-5 it says, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” God allows suffering because we can grow through suffering by seeing suffering and witnessing it, we can grow and mature in seeing God’s path he has laid down for us! We grow through suffering by God giving us the strength to get over the suffering and we learn more in growing day by day that we face new things everyday, new sufferings to face each day! It is what will make us stronger in our hearts, mind, with our emotions, and through spiritual new comings through praying to God for strength in our times of suffering and pains! Scott Hafemann also says that, "...suffering is the schoolmaster thay God uses to raise [us] up in faith and hope." Suffering helps us grow spiritually through seeing what God does in our lives and how helps us through all: "Longing for our final redemption, suffering for doing right, and being persecuted for our faith are all evidence that God has begun the good work of making us like Christ" (Hafemann)! Suffering helps us grow closer to him!
Richard Joseph Krejcir, the Founder and Director of Into Thy Word Ministries, said that "suffering is a natural aspect of the human experience because we inherited a sinful nature that has corrupted all of God’s creation. Suffering does not diminish our faith; in fact, it will strengthen it. The incredible comfort we are given is that when we accept Christ, we take on His righteousness as a covering; so as we battle on in the diversities and travesties of life, we can still grow, and become better at handling life."
Destructive suffering is bad pain that God did not intend for us. Destructive pain is an evil suffering inflicted on us with the intent to do harm. In many cases, God will use that suffering and turn it around to do good in a person’s life. God can make good things happen out of out bad pain. Just look at September 11th. September 11, 2001 was a day of pain and turmoil for the United States. Many innocent lives were lost, yet after that tragic event, the country seemed to pull together, and many people turned to God at this hard time in their lives.
God has a hand in all things that happen to us. He allows us to go through bad experiences to help make us grow. Larry Crabb says that "...all things, in the hand of God, work together for people whose primary agenda is to glorify God, who long to enjoy Him to others in every relational encounter." He is saying that we are supposed to find hope in everything we live for. God has a plan, and everything will work out for the better. God may have a reason for a person to go through a bad experience. We just need to learn to trust in Him that everything will be ok.
God can use suffering for good, He uses suffering to get our attention. Job 36:15 says “but by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer. For he gets their attention through adversity.” When a person is suffering they need to turn to God because He is the only one who can ease suffering. The only way that one can find God when they are suffering is if they realize that He can lift it, no matter what the suffering is. God knows why everyone suffers and the only thing a person must do is turn to him and they will suffer no more. “For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Sometimes God causes us to suffer when we need to be reminded of how Christ suffered. Christ is the ultimate example of good coming form suffering.
Throughout all of our lives we will all go through some type of suffering or pain, and that as why we as Christians have to look to God to help us get through those tough times. We have to pray for strength, read of his word and learn of what the Bible tells us to do, or do both. Fr. Seraphim Rose said, "Why do men learn through pain and suffering, and not through pleasure and happiness? Very simply, because pleasure and happiness accustom one to satisfaction with the things given in this world, whereas pain and suffering drive one to seek a more profound happiness beyond the limitations of this world." There are many ways that Christians or anyone else for that matter can look for help or strength in tough times, through the midst of suffering, but the ultimate source of help and strength is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! He is our midst to get us through pain and suffering! He has been through the great pains and sufferings to give us what we have today and that is our lives and what we have. God sent his one and only son, Jesus Christ, to die for us, so therefore God put his son through the midst of suffering and Jesus thrived, he did what God sent him here to do. We as Christians can thrive through the midst of suffering through God and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
From the passages above we have learned that there are two types of suffering, therapeutic, and destructive. We also learned how God used these two types to build us spiritually and mentally. We also learned that suffering helps us see what work God is doing for us and what part he takes in our lives. We also learn that God did not intend on having us suffer through destructive suffering that it is only evil. So after reading this paper I hope you learned the true reason why Christians suffer and we survive through the mist of suffering.
" Christ Is In Our Midst!." Christ Is In Our Midst!. 26 Oct. 2007 <http://handmaidleah.wordpress.com/2007/08/18/thoughts-on-christian-life-suffering>.
Cloud, Dr. Henry, and Dr. John Townsend. How People Grow: What the Bible Reveals About Personal Growth. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2004.
Crabb, Larry. Shattered Dreams: God's Unexpected Pathway to Joy. Colorado Springs: WaterBrook Press, 2002.
Hafemann, Scott J.. The God of Promise and the Life of Faith: Understanding the Heart of the Bible. Leicester, England: Crossway Books, 2001.
"Study 2 - Why Does God Allow Suffering?." Elite.Net - Merced, Atwater, Livingston and the World!. 17 Oct. 2007 <http://www.elite.net/~ebedyah/PastorsSite/weeklystudies/questionsalways/study2.htm>.
Zondervan. Zondervan NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids