Overwhelming Suffering

Sometimes we go through trials that seem to pile one on top of the other.  We feel as if the entire world is crushing us and there is no relief.  The Apostle Paul encourages us by saying, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:” (Romans 5:3-4 KJV)  The NIV says, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

J. Vernon McGee explains these verses in his commentary on Romans, “It is quite interesting to see the three words that are associated with trouble. One is joy, another is hope, and the third is patience. God has to work that into us although it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. In other words, it takes trouble to bring out the best in the believer’s life. The only way God can get fruit out of the life of the believer is by pruning the branches.”  Pruning is painful.  If plants could talk, I’m sure they would complain when the gardener comes with the pruning shears to lop off the dead leaves and branches.  It isn’t fun, but the rewards are so great! 

When it seems like everything is coming fast and furious, our first reaction should be to go to God in prayer.  Run to Father God!  Only He can help us.  “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”  (Psalm 55:22 NASB 1995)  I know in my own life as I was going through a heavy trial that there were times I thought I was going to be crushed by all that was going on.  It was only God who got me through it by placing people in my pathway who gave me encouragement, prayed for me, and helped me in a myriad of other ways.  When I went through the worst of it, my first reaction was to cry out to God, and He was right there.

My life verse is Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly before the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (KJV)  When I read that verse, in my mind I see God, my Father, my Abba (Daddy), sitting in a big, overstuffed chair, not a cold, imposing throne.  He isn’t stern looking, but He is sitting there asking me to come and sit on His lap. When I do, He wraps His arms around me, puts my head on His shoulder, and says, “It’s ok, I’m here, my daughter.”  I get such comfort from that image!  He has me in His arms, and I can cry on His shoulder, while He gives me strength to endure the suffering.

Going through the tough times has helped me.  Would I want to go through it again? No, of course not, but I grew in my walk with the Lord during that time.  I became stronger in my Christian walk, and even though I’m not the most patient person in the world, I have a little better handle on being patient, maybe not a lot, but a little.  I’m a work in progress in that area.  I know that if I must go through another traumatic time, I will make it because God is with me.  It has given me empathy for those who are going through the same thing I did.  I can encourage them and let them know God has not forgotten them.  Despite what I went through, I’m glad for that part of the journey.  I found out that God is everything His Word says He is.

Going through tribulation, even though the process may not be enjoyable, can cause us to draw closer to God. God will help us gain the Fruits of the Spirit of Joy, Hope, and Patience, because He walks with us through our trials and in doing so, we grow in our walk with Him.     

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