Thursday, October 22, 2009

And Rain Will Make The Flowers Grow

Lately, God has been speaking to me about suffering, pride, His sovereignty, and living a life that glorifies Him, draws others closer to Him, and makes Him famous.  But it all seems to come back to learning about suffering and looking at in an atypical manner - how it is not about me, but about God.

I don't know if God is preparing me for something, encouraging me in my suffering (which is relatively minimal), or equipping me to minister to others who are suffering.  Maybe it is all of those.  I don't know.  He has yet to show me, or I have yet to listen well enough to hear what He is quietly saying.

Here are some verses I love on suffering, comfort, and hope; they have been my foundation in times of trouble.  I am sure you know them all, but humor me.
Psalms 34:18,19 - The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.
Isaiah 26:3,4 - You [God] will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is the Rock eternal.
Psalms 139:7-12 (this is a longer one, so I will not print it here, but it is a reminder that wherever we are, God is there and will shine in the darkness of our lives)
Isaiah 40:28, 29 - Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (all emphasis mine - I just love how it is saying "He-lo-o!  God is GOD!  Get that in your head!)
Isaiah 41:10 - So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Revelations 21:4 - He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
Psalms 31:24 - Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
Psalms 31:7 - I will be glad and rejoice in your love for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.
II Corinthians 4:8,9 - We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
Psalms 27:14 - Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord.
Psalms 3:3-5 (again, you can look this one up on your own, as I am getting a little long-winded here - but keeping stick with me just a bit longer)
These verses, of course, are just the tip of the iceberg.

I believe good comes from suffering.  I believe Love never fails.  I believe God is in control and loves us deeply.  I believe suffering can draw us closer to Him.  I believe we are blessed when God gives us a glimpse of the joy that can rise from suffering.  I believe even if we never see the good, God fulfills His promises and He is glorified and someone (or someones) is blessed.  I believe that even if we never get that opportunity, that insight, we are still blessed and God is still glorified.

But how do you encourage someone who is suffering without sounding callous?  How do you say "Hey, there is joy in this, brother/sister!  It is a good thing"?  Do those who are suffering really want to hear: "You know, this is really great news."  I have never experienced a truly great sorrow, but I have been told the last thing people who have want to hear is comments like "it was God's will", etc.  But at the same time, it IS God's will that every knee shall bow, every tongue confess.  He gave His own Son to make that happen, so we know He is willing to sacrifice for us.  Shouldn't we try to be able to sacrifice for Him in return?

Just thinking out loud here.  (thinking through my fingers?)  I will end with this:  There is hope in suffering.  Take heart, the Lord is God.  I know my Redeemer lives.

Would love to hear your thoughts...

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