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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Enough with the Pain and Suffering, Right?


“Thankfully, I have been thru this before.”

     Most of the last four weeks have been filled with a lot of physical pain for me.  I’ve had to find a way to deal with the pain without letting it take over my thoughts and become what I centered on.  I’m not new to this kind of pain, thankfully, I have been through this before.  I’ve been down this road and I know many of its twists, turns and pitfalls.  I’ve had previous experiences to help me so when this didn’t pass as quickly as the last time I didn’t become consumed with the pain. 

     But is physical pain the only pain we deal with? No.  We also deal with mental/psychological pain.  Throughout our lives we’ll deal with many kinds of pain and suffering… the loss of a loved one, illnesses in ones body, sometimes suffering the consequences of our previous actions or the actions of others… mental suffering from guilt, condemnation or anguish. 

Over the years I’ve heard many ask… Why?

     The youngest of my sons just recently showed me a poster he wanted to talk to me about.  The poster begins with a person carrying a heavy cross and you can see in the background many others doing the same.  In the second section you see the main character asking God to make his cross smaller… to cut it down because it’s just too heavy to carry.  And
God does.  In the next several sections you have a repeat of that same idea with the main characters cross getting smaller and smaller each time.  Eventually the main character comes to a large crevice that goes on as far as the eye can see.  In the background you see the other characters have used their cross to bridge the gap but the main character kneels on the side of the crevice unable to make his way across …. his cross is now too small to help him.  My son told me how sad he thought it was that the one couldn’t get across.  I ask him if he understood why and he said no.  Now I know there are many possible explanations for this but I’m going to share with you the one God gave me for my son.

     I told him that the cross that was being carried were the burdens, sometimes pain and suffering that the man needed to go through.  I told him that I know the idea that he needed to go through some pain and suffering sounds harsh.  I then explained that God knows what is in our future.  He knows what we will go through, what we will experience.  God knows the people who will be affected and possibly reached for him in our future because of what we’ve gone through.  It’s not that He wants us to hurt but if we are willing to walk through what is coming, if we are willing to carry our cross… He will work all these things out for our good.  One day we will come to a crevice, a gap, a place that we cannot get across… the burdens, the pain and suffering…. the cross we’ve carried will bridge the gap.  There are people who will never darken the doors of a church but they will read the story of your life and watch it play out in front of them.  There will be those who sit in your very church that think no one knows the pain and suffering they’ve been through.  They’ll believe no one could understand them.  You’ll be able to reach them, to bridge the gap… because of the “cross” you’ve carried.

(premium photo from Kozzi / Kozzi.com)


     What I'm trying to say is maybe we should think twice about asking God to remove the suffering and the pain.  Maybe we should consider asking God to help us through it all.  Don’t misunderstand…. I’m not a glutton for pain or suffering.  I feel like I’ve gone through more than enough in my life but I also don’t want to die without having fulfilled my purpose and destiny.  I don’t want to go to my grave one day knowing I didn’t do all that God would have had me do.

     I've known the pain and suffering of losing a child, the pain of having to take away life support, of losing a parent.  I know what it’s like to be rejected, to be reviled, to be stabbed in the back, to be the brunt of gossip and slander.  I've experienced being surrounded by those who only put me down, who thought little of me, and who saw in me nothing of value.  I've walked in the shoes of those who have had doors of opportunities slammed in their faces. I've walked the lonely path of dealing with chronic illnesses in myself or family members.  I’ve felt the scorn of those who wouldn't accept me because I didn't have the right socioeconomic status.  I know the pain of trying to figure out what you will feed your children.  I know what it’s like to lose everything, to have to humble yourself and ask for help because you can’t help yourself.

     Would I have rather never gone through any of this?  YES!  But, I have gone through it and it was up to me how I came out on the other side.  It’s been up to me whether to wallow in all that pain and suffering and ask God to end it or to “cut it down, and make it smaller.”  But then who would have touched the lives that I've ministered to as I've carried my cross?  Who would be speaking to you right now?  If it wasn't for the “cross” I've carried, the pain and suffering I've dealt with, would you even care to read what I say?  Would I even be able to speak to you right now? 

Maybe all I’ve gone through has been to reach just you…
to let you know you can make it through…
that God will walk right beside you…
to tell you God loves you.

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