Life with Jesus does not mean a life without suffering. So, how do we learn How to suffer well?
Now, maybe that’s what you were taught or maybe you just assumed it to be true. Let’s face it, the typical American dream version of Christianity can paint a pain-free picture. But as you know, suffering is a reality.
The world’s message about pain doesn’t set us up well either.
We hope you’ll take time to listen as Josh, Kit Elmer, and Dan Keefer discuss the hard truth about suffering and constructive ways to suffer well. The ripple effects of avoiding or numbing out affect the most important relationships in our lives.
You owe it to you and to those around you to learn to suffer well. Listen in.
Our sexuality is deeply impacted by suffering. Our relationships are deeply impacted by suffering and if we don’t learn to suffer well then, these parts of our lives are going to continue to suffer.
So often we try to bring our painful parts of life and we try to medicate those by running to those sexual behaviors
When we accept our weaknesses, our suffering; we accept Christ’s strength.
Typical messages around suffering that aren’t helpful:
- You must have done something wrong to have brought this suffering upon yourself.
- If you had enough faith, you’d be able to get out of this
- Pain is bad, avoid it, get away from it, dismiss it. There is nothing good that can come from embracing it.
When someone shares their suffering with you, your first step is to LISTEN. Resist trying to share a verse or a remedy. Let your listening be the gift.
Saul’s Conversion Acts 9:18
Isaiah 30:20 “Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.” NIV
OR “Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes.” NLT
Philippians 4:10-13 “I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
John 11:17-30 Jesus wept at Lazarus death
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
Click for Full Podcast Transcription
What do relationships, sex and suffering have to do with each other? What’s the connection point for these? That’s we’re going to talk about today’s podcast, just a light little conversation. Dan keefer. Can Elmer join me in the quote unquote studio or zoom, connected studio today to talk about, really, we want to talk about suffering. And I want to start with with really talking about why we’re going to talk about suffering. And it’s because why is it what do we talk? What? Why do we talk about this?
Well, one of the things we said was that there are a lot of messages out there that we receive about suffering that aren’t helpful, haven’t been helpful, have set us up in a way not to be able to be open to it or experience it in a way that, you know, God might have intended.
Yeah, yeah. And, and I asked question, the beginning, what do sex relationships and suffering have to do with each other. And there is a reality that, that our sexuality is deeply impacted by suffering, our relationships are deeply impacted by suffering. And if we, if we don’t learn to suffer, well, then then these parts of our lives are going to continue to struggle. And, Dan, you were teaching a couple weeks at one of our groups a couple weeks ago, one of our groups, and we’re talking about just this idea of how, how if we don’t deal well with our suffering, and we’ll actually end up putting it onto somebody else. And we’ll talk a little bit more about that later. But let’s start with a question that you you raise, what are what are the things we’ve heard about suffering? What are the typical messages in our culture, in our families, in our churches, around suffering that are not helpful or not true, even?
Dan Keefer 2:07
I think one of the messages goes way back into the old testament to the book of Job. And Job’s friends who were silent for a period of time and were present with him and his suffering, were really helpful. And then they started, not just asking questions, but making accusations and saying the job, you must have done something wrong to have brought this suffering upon yourself. And today, we could find different scenarios in which people would be told a similar message, you must have brought this on yourself.
And Endor, if you had enough faith, you would, you would be able to get out of this. And then the other thing I think of is, we really are told pain is bad, avoid it, get rid of it, run away from it, dismiss it, there is nothing good that can come from embracing it and entering into it.
I mean, I think if we think about kind of the typical American Dream version of Christianity, it doesn’t move from, you know, life’s good to suffering, it moves from suffering to life is good and gets better and better and better. I remember when I was the Christian ministry that I got involved in, in college. We were you know, we were trained on how to share our testimony, and the template went, what was your life before you became a Christian like? And now How did you meet Jesus? And now tell us about how good it is that you met Jesus? Wow. Looking at the pages of Scripture, and how frequently in the New Testament, we are, we are told that Christians suffer. What What on earth were they thinking with that kind of template? And we get it, it is great news to hear about Jesus, great news come to faith, he makes life better. Absolutely. Look, read the Gospels, people who were suffering were brought to Jesus that’s the word use, at least in the New American Standard Version, people who are sick and suffering are brought to Jesus so that he could heal them and relieve their suffering. So yes, yes and Amen. And, and you think about people like the Apostle Paul who, blinded on the road to Damascus, an angel appears to who is it and is and nice and set and God says to him, Hey, I want you to go and and meet this guy, Saul. I’m going to teach him how much he’s going to have to suffer from my namesake. Suffering is a part of being a Christian, we can bring in some more verses later, but so any other messages that that we’ve, we’ve heard that kind of a ramp into culture before we move on to the next little bit. any messages, especially that we hear in the church?
Dan Keefer 5:05
Yeah, I think I think even and you put it there, well, Josh, the way we can be introduced to faith in Christ is, is to not pay attention to the suffering that can come with it. And, and there can be almost a bait and switch. And it’s Jesus will make your life better than you could have ever imagined. And yet, some people have not experienced that. And it kind of ignores what Jesus said in the gospels about coming to set, you know, mother against the father or against children or, or dividing families. And it’s really, it’s a really disruptive passage when he’s uttering that, because you’re thinking, but Jesus, I thought, you were loving and kind and you can bring people together. But there is inherent in the Gospel, a part of that, that is divisive and can introduce suffering into a person’s life.
Yeah, and what about, what about the messages we get about marriage, you know, you’re, you’re single and lonely, and then you get married, and it’s happily ever after. Let me let’s just let me throw this out there. This is another teaser about where we’re going and why we’re talking with us today. If you do not know how to suffer, well, your marriage is going to hurt from it, your marriage is going to have problems if you don’t have to suffer well, suffering is a part of every relationship that we’ve got. And certainly those close relationships. And if we expect that marriage or some relationship or friendship or new job, or having children is going to alleviate the suffering we’re experiencing, then we are headed for great disappointment. And support discipleship. Alright, so.
So we are really ill equipped. Really, I mean, I think that’s probably what we’re saying, We are ill equipped, in some ways, right from the get go. Because not only are we ill equipped, but what’s coming to my mind too, is that, isn’t it interesting that the very times of hardship and suffering, if you look back on your life, you go, Wow, that’s what I sense God’s closest to me. So it’s just interesting that we set it up in a way that really discourages people from the very thing that will bring what Jesus wants.
Yeah. So you get married, and your spouse has problems you did not know or that you’d hoped would go away, that you’re going to have to suffer through that your spouse is not all he thought he or she would be. And what married couple does not discover that. It is a real part of life, you have children and your children are sinful, just like everybody else. And they cost a lot of money, and they wake up in the middle of the night and they make their own choices as they get older, there is suffering that goes with that, in the realm of sexuality. If you want to live chastely, and you have sexual desires, there will be times where you will experience differing degrees of suffering as you wait for your spouse. And if you’re not married as you wait, or as you forego sexual intimacy altogether. In the realm of men and women who are trying to overcome unwanted sexual behaviors, like pornography, or prostitution, or hooking up with people. So often we bring our painful situations or painful times in life. And we try to medicate those by running to those sexual behaviors. And if I’ve had a bad day, I’m going to look at pornography and we learn well, there are men and women who make up the pages and the videos of pornography, those are really hurting people, that we put their pain aside so that I can feel better in this moment. Someone’s got to suffer, someone’s got to suffer, and we want to learn how to suffer well. So with that in mind, what does it mean to learn to suffer? Well,
Dan Keefer 8:59
I think one of the parts just a place to even begin is this to acknowledge that suffering is a part of life. And so when we acknowledge that it will be there, and as Christ followers, it will be there, then we won’t be as caught off guard when it does come our way when there’s a hurt or a loss in a relationship or a child makes a decision that just is gut wrenching for for the parent, or anything that comes our way, acknowledging that this is a part of the journey. And this is also a way that because Christ suffered on our behalf, it’s also a way that we become more like Him.
Remember, it was probably 40 years ago now. I read the book, the road less traveled. And the first line is life is difficult. And I remember going wait what you know, and it really stopped me in my tracks because no one had ever really said that to me. Life is full of promise, and it’s full of joy. And it’s the, you know, you can expect all these dreams to come true. And so I think acknowledging that we live in a broken world, we live in a broken world, we need to acknowledge that even forgive that, embrace that in order so that we can see God moving in that brokenness, God redeeming that brokenness.
So let me let me let me push back because I can hear it for both. Yeah, I can hear some of our listeners saying, Well, hold on, hold on, hold on. Jesus came to redeem, like, we have we have, we have power in Christ to make a difference to make things better. It sounds like you guys are kind of just throwing up your hands and saying, well, we live in a fallen world. So we have to despair. What person out How? How do you respond to that?
Dan Keefer 10:51
Well, I think we have, we have a choice, we can choose to despair. Or we can like the Apostle Paul that was talking about his own weakness, and the statement that he makes that My grace is sufficient for you, in your weakness, I am strong. And so and it’s counterintuitive, it runs in sharp contrast to what we see in our culture. And even in certain faith communities. That is a contrast. And so we’re invited to embrace the weakness, to embrace the suffering, recognizing that Jesus shows up in those places. And we experience our strength in and through him.
And one of my very, very, very favorite scriptures of late has is Isaiah 30, where it says when there when there are breads of bread of adversity and water of affliction, they will come but your teachers will be hidden no more, with your own eyes, you will see them. And so these places of adversity and affliction allow you if we’ll be willing to have eyes to see teachers, God’s coming and saying through these things, there are, there is redemption.
Think so there’s that mixture between we we do not lose hope. And we do not let go of the reality that that Christ redeems that God heals that we have the Spirit of the living Christ in us, he has been raised from the dead. And therefore we have great reason to hope and great reason to pray with faith, and to move in faith and to rejoice. And we are still living in in between times we are living in the now of Christ’s presence and the not yet of Christ’s full real, his full presence being restored in the kingdom comes, I think here of Paul in Philippians. And this is quoted so often, that you know that we hear we hear that and we quote it, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me recording Paul there in Philippians. Four, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And yet, if we read the passage in context, Paul says, as he says, I know how to get along with little. I also know how to live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance, I’ve learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering, need, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. So I can do all things through Christ who trains me it’s not a guarantee of, I’ll never have to suffer, I’ll never have to go without, I’ll never have to be in pain it is I can do this in Christ, I can suffer, I can have joy, I can be in abundance I can have need. What else? What else? Does it mean? To go back to that question? What else does it mean to learn to suffer? Well? What are some give me some concrete ideas, images, things that come to mind and you think of learning to suffer? Well.
Dan Keefer 13:45
I’m not sure how concrete This is. But when I think about someone who suffers? Well, I see Jesus in them. There’s peace in the midst of hardship, peace in the midst of loss. There’s there’s something profound that is seen in a person’s life where you know, like Scripture says about certain people you can tell by their faces that they’d been Jesus. And that’s something that that I see in people who have learned to suffer, suffer, well, I see Jesus.
And that there is this reality that when we accept our weaknesses, our suffering, we begin to accept Christ strength that is beyond ours, in our weakness, his strength comes into its own. So there is that reality.
I think here of of let me go back to some of the kind of things I was talking about before so the person in the midst of temptation. And those who are tempted, by the way are included in that, that litany of of the faithful and Hebrews 11 people who have suffered martyrdom and all sorts of things. And including temptation is one of the things that the writer of Hebrews lists there. But a person who’s tempted, part of the temptation that comes with that is, if you just give in, you’ll feel better. And so I think of learning how to suffer Well, one of the places where we learn to suffer well is enduring, ongoing temptation, instead of taking the shortcut to the pleasure that I can get if I just turn the computer back on, or masturbate or call up that old lover, or pull out the jack daniels or, you know, fill in the blank for whatever is going to ease the pain in that moment. And here, I didn’t use this word before we got on the call. But I think of that they were the cruciform the word cruciform. And there’s something about in that moment learning that learning how to suffer Well, it’s not something that we do in isolation it like, I don’t, I can’t explain this entirely. But there are ways in prayer where we, we unite our sufferings, in temptation. In not giving into temptation, we unite the suffering to Christ’s sufferings, we somehow connect with him in our sufferings in that moment.
And that’s it, there’s a spiritual reality to have, when I think about the moments when I’ve been, you know, feeling like I’m in the midst of most suffering is that I’m like, I, I need to invite him into that very place. You know that that’s what it means for me to be able to somehow embrace what’s going on is to not run from it, to not be afraid of it, but to say, oh, but but God, you You promised, you didn’t promise that things would wouldn’t go well, but you did promise you would always, always, always be with me. And when I can really embrace that, in a very deep way, it changes things.
Dan, you’re nodding, what comes to mind? Well,
Dan Keefer 17:07
usually what you were, you were saying, also, what you said, Josh, about, I got this picture of suffering your community, there’s something about when we do bring our suffering, whatever it is to others, there’s that sense of vulnerability of being known. And knowing that, that we don’t have to walk it out alone. And it’s a profound thing to see people come around one another. And we see this in our, in our world at large, when there’s an area where a tragedy and natural disaster strikes, what happens, people get, get the resources together and go there. And there are people that go and provide physical relief and fiscal aid. And there are others that go to, to be present with them and to sit with those who have experienced loss. And so so that’s another picture of suffering that, that we don’t maybe often think about is that it becomes this opportunity for people to to come together and to experience life together in a way that I think is part of God’s intent for us.
The other we got to talk here then about this, because I I’m totally with you. But there are things you can say or do when when you interact with when you’re suffering, that just are like salt in the wound. And even that can feel really, you know, like that was heartfelt it was maybe well meaning but just not helpful. So let’s talk just for a couple minutes about hey, if you’re if you’re got a friend, a loved one person in the Pew next to you who is just obvious they’re suffering. Please don’t. What, please don’t what and please do what?
Listen, listen, listen. Just be a be God’s presence by patiently just listening to their pain. And don’t, don’t rush in to fix it and make it better.
Yeah, like for example, God, you know, God’s gonna work it all out for good. No, though there’s meaning in this God’s allowed this for a reason. Those all may be true. But in the moment of suffering, they also just may not be helpful.
Dan Keefer 19:24
Yeah. And another one I actually somebody I was talking with recently made the statement of not slapping a Bible verse like a bumper sticker on whatever it is that that’s their pain. Scripture can and Joshua alluded to this scripture can be the most amazing source of comfort, but it also can be wielded in such a way that it leaves someone feeling unknown, unseen, unheard and unfelt. I don’t know if unfilter word or not, but they don’t feel felt. So it can actually it can actually increase the pain of their side. During when they, when they feel like someone’s just trying to slap something on to try to make me feel better. But I What kid? Yeah, kid what you said about being present listening. And I think that the greatest thing we have to offer people is our physical presence way before anything we can say.
I want to I want to go back to what you said, I want to come back to that. But I also want to go back to what you said a minute ago about you can you can actually increase someone’s pain with some of the quick, trite answers, even if they’re true. And I just can’t highlight that enough. Because I think part of part of what we can end up doing then is we can we we basically let somebody know, the place where you are right now. I’m not there. I’m in a completely different place. Yeah. And not only that, but so is God. Because he’s got purpose in this. He’s got meaning in this and so the pain you’re experiencing. It’s a it’s a subtle way of telling somebody stop being in that pain. You don’t have to be there right now. Yeah. Paul, Paul, Paul says, we grieve. we grieve. We don’t grieve as the world grieves, because we have hope. But we still grieve. And I think you’re Jesus is his model for us when, when Lazarus died, she, it’s the scripture say Jesus wept. He wept, what the heck he knew he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, and yet he wept. And you can theologizing that to say something. But I think that Jesus allowed himself to experience the grief, the tearing the incredible sadness that comes with loss. So then going back to what you said, just about presence? And what would it be like if we had communities of people where wins when one person suffers the community kind of recognizing? Well, of course, of course, you know, we all suffer. And the response is to gather around, to sit just just to just to esteem and to honor what the person is going through, and to be a presence with them. As opposed to someone you know, desperately trying to pull them out. And is it is it covey? Doesn’t covey also say that we, I’m talking too much, he also says the part of the reason we try to cover people too quickly is because not because we really want them to be out of pain, but because to sit with them, actually, it causes us pain. And so it’s actually selfish. Anyway, so
brings up your what you’re talking about, Josh brings up something really important in community in is it that is that God uses our unique suffering experiences to comfort others, I mean, how many times have we sat with someone, and they’re expressing something, and I thought to myself, if I hadn’t gone through what I went through six months ago, I would not know what to say here. But because I have had some suffering, and God has been with me in it, I think I can sit with this person in a different way. So that pastors that says, so that we may be able to comfort those as we’ve been comforted in there is a deep sense of a deepening compassion that happens in us, in suffering, as we as we allow God to grow and, and teach us and so when, in that moment, when you impart something by by a presence or a word, or an understanding that that goes so far, in terms of building this deep, deep community with people.
Dan Keefer 23:26
Kid, as you’re saying that, then here’s something else that’s absolutely counterintuitive, when we see that our suffering enables us to then sit with someone and their suffering, then one of the byproducts is we can learn to rejoice in our sufferings. And that’s just crazy talk in our world today. And maybe even in some Christian context, to rejoice in suffering, because knowing that the comfort that’s received we then, so it’s even this picture of Jesus pouring himself out into us in our suffering, so that we can then at some point, pour out of our lives into the lives of others. So just
take a picture of that promote, like just like freeze frame, sitting with somebody, and whether you’re the person, you know, responding and passion or receiving it, something sacred happens. So there’s that joy, that sense of well being that can come. Even sharing in a suffering moment, can be sacred, because you’re sharing it and you you sense God’s presence in that in a powerful way. Yeah.
We, we, we should do another podcast just on how to sit with somebody who’s suffering. I want to I want us to move on, because I think there’s so much more we can say there. And it does seem to be somewhat of a lost art in our culture. Yeah, we got a couple things we noticed say or do and that’s it, but we were talking about what does it mean how to suffer Well, what else comes to mind for you? So I want to just paint a picture for you. And then then we’ll kind of move to a final question. But you’re talking to somebody who’s going through a just found out their spouse has been unfaithful. And they’re really in pain about it. And there, there’s, you know, there’s a recovery plan in place, they’re doing some things like that. But it just hurts. Or you’re sitting with somebody who’s single, and has wanted and wanted and wants to be married, and is heard, you know, marriages make everything better. But there’s still this ache, this longing for that. Or somebody has has a sexual addiction. And they’ve tried and tried to stop, but they just they just fallen again, and it just hurt. Because this has gone on for so long. And this is never the person they want it to be. What do you what do you what do you say to them about suffering? Well, what if you if you were to be able to instill something in them about practicing suffering? Well, what comes to mind? Dan, you’re shaking your head. Oh,
Dan Keefer 26:02
yeah. Cuz Josh, that’s hard to answer. I’m just I’m wrestling with it. And I hope this does not distract people. But where my mind immediately went was to the movie inside out. Where sadness is sitting next to this creek create a creature of Riley’s dreams and imagination named Bing Bong. And Bing Bong is sad. And sadness sits next to Bing Bong listens to listens to Bing Bong and says something that was empathetic reflective listening. And then you see Bing Bong kind of set up and, and others happened all way too fast. And it is a cartoon or animation, but big bugs like, ah, and you could tell that Bing Bong felt heard and understood. And, you know, I, so I wrestle with MC I wrestle with like, Okay, what would I say to that person?
Well, so let me let me shift it because because because I don’t want us to get back into like, you know, how do you? How do you help somebody. But if you were to help if you could instill something, if that person I’ve just described could have something, carry something in them about suffering? Well, what kinds of things would you say like, these would be practices, these would be things that can help someone suffer? Well.
First thing that comes to my mind is, I do think it’s important what Dan is saying, which is just acknowledging just by presence, and by tone, and by, you know, our posture, just like that is so hard. That is so much pain. How do you think you might invite God into that? Is there a way that you can invite God into that? Very place of pain.
So that’s, that’s a practice that someone could could take is inviting God into the pain.
Dan Keefer 27:53
Yeah. And even it’s along with that a similar question. Where might God be in pain?
It’s good. Mm hmm.
So, so if you’re that person, some of what you’re trying to do is to suffer wellness. One is to invite God into a God come into this pain. Another is God, where are you in this pain? God, show me where you are in this pain.
Yeah, sometimes it’s crying out and saying, I don’t feel you, I don’t see you. But to the very exercise of opening of saying, but help me, help me if there’s something between me and you right now that I’m resisting. Come into this, I invite you into here to this place.
We’re looking about that. And I’d also add to this, sometimes this is going to manifest as raging. Yes. Anger.
And if you find yourself in a time of suffering, that you you an unwillingness and anger rising up about God, and you are insecure about expressing that to him, I’d suggest to you that sometimes that is the most honest kind of prayer, you can pray. And the songs are full of examples of this. So you’re not going to surprise Jeez, I think running to porn, running to our addictions of choice. Those are often expressions of anger, and shaking your fist at others and a god and ourselves. And so if you think you’ve never been angry at God, I’ve never expressed it you have you just didn’t know that’s what you’re doing. You weren’t doing it, were aware of him. So
that’s actually efficient. That’s such a good point, Josh, that in that moment of temptation, in that in that pain is, is exactly when we we want to be able to invite God in because our normal compulsive response of pain is to run to something to fix it to patch it up. When when we know that it won’t, that’s the very place where God can and so I do think it is in those times. moments when we want to remember, like, how, how do I invite God in here? And it’s hard. It’s a process. It takes time. But it can be something that we learn to do.
here’s, here’s another one. And when I say it, I think you guys will be like, Oh, right. What how do we not say that before? One, one practice for suffering? Well, is cry. Yeah. Right. Oh, gosh, is there actually crying as is a God given physiological response to suffering to pay? Absolutely. I think we forget, resist that.
I think we forget how I think we just really stuffed things down so much, because we’re busy. And we’re, you know, for whatever reason, and I can feel sometimes in my body, like, I think I need to have a good cry. I don’t know how to do that always, you know, so it is really being in touch with? Am I letting these things out? How do I do that? Huh?
Yeah. Yeah, if you find yourself kind of stopped up, that’s a, you know, tell people tell God. It seems like I had to be crying, I feel like I could use a good cry. And if you’re a person who feels like I don’t, you don’t have people around, you are safe enough for that. And maybe you know, I don’t want my roommate walking in while I’m crying. Maybe Maybe you got some hang ups around the vulnerability of really feeling pain with others. If you really don’t have safety, then lock the door, find some safe place to go and be able to lament and cry alone? Well, I want to ask you a more personal question as we wrap up, and I’ll answer to but what what’s been helpful for you a profound for you, as you have practiced experiencing, walking through suffering Well, as you as you think about some of your own places of suffering, Dan and Kitt. What’s been helpful, profound for you?
Dan Keefer 32:06
So there’s a story that I go back to my early 20s, I was in the midst of a significant relational loss in my life. And I happened I was at a church service. It was a it was had been a church that was a home church for me at one time, and I ran into a guy there, actually, in the hallway, and he says, Hey, Dan, how are you doing? And I said, I’m not doing well. I trusted this guy. He says, Let’s go talk. So we went off in another room, and I just, I was pouring out my heart. He did not say a word to me. But even as I was shedding tears, I was seeing tears come out of his eyes. And he entered into my pain. I don’t know that I’ve even talked to the guy since that event, since that experience, but that has stuck with me. He shared tears with me. And there was no greater indication of being empathized with, and a feeling felt than what I had in that moment.
Well, I remember a time for me where I was in the throes of really trying hard to break free from my sexual addiction. And, and I was struggling, I just was having a hard time finding my way. And I remember one day, particularly that I had acted out again, in some ways that I just felt so ashamed about and so discouraged by and I went over to my I just dropped by a mentors house and he opened the door and it was Yeah, I think he even had those yellow cleaning gloves on, he was the middle of something else. And I just, I said, Can I just talk to you for a minute, he opened the door and went in and I confessed to him what I just done and and I just started crying. I was so distraught, so tired of this. And he just he just hugged me, he just we sat on the floor and he just pulled me in and hugged me and ended receive comfort from for the pain that I was experiencing, especially because it was pain that I had inflicted on myself was so moving and I kind of after a couple minutes, I started brushing my tears away and I pulled away and he looked at me said what are you really done? Meaning Are you have you cried all you need to cry? And I was like, No. He said, Well, then don’t stop. I just cried some more of such a beautiful melodic, like, someone being with me and and i think if i could expand it more broadly to the question that I’d asked like what’s been helpful. models like that have helped me to recognize God’s willingness to sit with me and my pain. And I have learned and I don’t always do it, so I need to keep learning it, keep practicing it but there is something powerful about pressing myself pressing my pain into the wounds of Jesus on the cross. Not as a you know, push him there and then run away from him but but in a way, like being with him, sharing Letting him share my suffering and seeking to share in his in those moments. There’s a welcoming aspect to the cross of Jesus that I think we don’t always think about in the realm of suffering. And what about you?
Yeah, I really relate to all of what you’ve been sharing that both of you, once one memory I have this recent is in a time of a lot of fear. Yeah, it was. I felt very alone and very afraid. And, and I remember thinking, don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid. And I realized that’s not. And I was like, God saying that what God’s saying to me is not, don’t be afraid, because I was afraid of fear. He was saying, instead, don’t be afraid, because I’m with you. And so it was a I was able to embrace it and actually accept the fear. And again, like we were talking earlier, invite God into it. And that was just a remarkable change for me of realizing I’m afraid of I’m afraid, and I’m afraid of fear. And I have no idea how to be okay in it, except to win in that moment when I invited God into it. And that was very powerful. Then the other thing was, being in a another suffering situation, and having a dear friend who really knows me, well speak to my true self. Like, I felt like she was speaking to my true self when she said, You are loving? Well, here, you are loving well hear, and it affirmed in me what I needed to hear, which was, I have a true self. And she sees it. And in my suffering, she saw my true self being alive being present. And that was very healing for me.
Yeah. Friends, as you’re listening, there’s so much more there volumes written about suffering, experiencing pain scripture as much to say about it. We are not in any way saying, don’t pray for healing, dive into suffering. But we are saying that in this world, you will have trouble, we get that on good authority. We are saying that suffering is not something to be surprised by, it’s actually something that we ought to expect. It’s not to invoke fear, but it is to say, oh, when it comes, Oh, here it is. I’m normal. And this is normal. And Jesus told me I’d experienced this and so he has something for me in it. And here I want to close with Romans eight, one of my favorite passages worth reading the whole bit, but I won’t for sake of time. Paul says, Frank, consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the eagerly awaiting creation waits for the revealing of the sons and daughters of God, the creation of subjected to futility, not willingly because of him who subjected it and hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption, into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation, ourselves included, groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. Jesus, we have become people we maybe we’ve always been this way since the fall that we run from suffering Lord, and we are so quick to push our suffering onto other people, to make them suffer. So we don’t have to, to lash out at somebody else in anger. When we’re in pain, to push somebody else away, when we really were feeling rejected, to run to pornography, and to ignore the pain and suffering of the men and women in porn, just so we can feel a reprieve from the hardship of our day. Or to try to control our kids, or friends, or spouses. When Lord, we’re really we’re the ones who feel out of control. Got in so many other examples of this. Would you Lord Jesus teach us to be more like you, teach us how to suffer well, or teach us how to suffer well, that we might become more and more the men and women of God who love well near Earth, Lord, and trusting our pain and our losses to you because of what you have in store and pray all these things now in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.
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