What basics? Did you know there were basics? Waaaay back on the first page I briefly outlined where we were going on the website and the blog. Since clicking on the link, is strenuous exercise and burns 450 calarías, (just kidding) I’ll reprint the information below for you.
Welcome to my two new parallel projects. “Transforming Suffering” looks at how suffering can raise us to a new level of awareness, thinking, compassion, understanding, spirituality and most importantly LOVE. As I was using “All the Prayers of Paul” for my privateI devotional time, I discovered that his prayers fit in very nicely with how suffering is redemptive and transforming.
Redemptive suffering is when you go through a problem or pain for the benefit of others.
Transforming suffering gets you out of focusing on your own suffering to actually using it to change the world. So, we will look at Paul’s journey as well as my own.
For a more in-depth study:
There are a variety of reasons God allows different forms of suffering in the world. We may not always know His specific reason for each instance of suffering, but we know the Character of God enough to trust Him when we don’t understand.
— Read on carm.org/if-god-all-powerful-and-loving-why-there-suffering-world
Four categories of prayer jumped out at me as I was studying the Apostle Paul’s prayers. He prayed for:
1) Simple things: like the desire to go see people he loves, bringing his cloak, and for people to get along with each other.
2) Relationship with God: Straying from God, getting closer to God, tools to have a better relationship with God, and evangelism – people coming to know God through Jesus.
3) Internal mental and spiritual things such as being happy in hope, being patient in tribulation and constant in prayer.
4) Big picture: Paul prays for us to get the big picture. This is a top down view from God’s viewpoint, eternity.
We will see the Apostle Paul’s prayers fall into these catagories often as we delve into how suffering affected his life and transformed him.
We will also see how my journey has been transforming for me.
So. . .
WHY DO PEOPLE SUFFER?
For Christians and non-Christians evil and suffering are often at the forefront of our minds, particularly when we ourselves are suffering. How could a good God allow so much evil? Why doesn’t He do something about it? Couldn’t God have created a world without evil?
Did you know that Christianity is the only religion that deals with suffering? Not that, but Christianity has the answers. Below is a brief attempt to deal with Christians and non-Christians suffer, particularly when we ourselves are suffering. How could a good God allow so much evil? Why doesn’t He do something about it? Couldn’t God have created a world without evil?Below is a brief attempt to deal with suffering in the world.
1. Suffering is a universal part of our humanity that exists in a fallen world. The question of why there is suffering in death for some and not as much for others is really not answerable. For we reckon things from our human experience and do not understand the infinite mind and purpose of God. In the great faith chapter, we often read of the heroes of the faith but neglect the litany of those unnamed who suffered for their faith (Hebrews 11:33-40). These all died suffering deaths yet are heroes of the faith. They are unnamed and unsung among men, but God values theiru suffering and includes them in this great chapter of faith as a lesson to us.
2. Suffering and death are part of the curse of sin on the world (Genesis 3:16-19). Adam and Eve fell, and when they did, they brought to themselves and to all of their descendants the suffering of death. “But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). We know that Adam and Eve did not die physically on the day that they ate of the tree. Adam lived to the age of 930 (Genesis 5:5). But when Adam sinned, he was spiritually separated from God, and this is the first death.
3. The question of why some suffer at death and others do not could be summed up in one statement: “it brings God glory.” That is not just a trite and easy statement. When Jesus healed a man born blind, the disciples questioned Him. “‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life’” (John 9:1-3). In this passage is a principle that can be applied to our question. God allows some to suffer so that “the work of God might be displayed.” Why is that important? God has the answer, the remedy, and the cure for human suffering. In other words, God allows some to suffer to bring glory to His name and demonstrate His deep, deep LOVE. others not to suffer for the same reason. It is God’s sovereign will. Therefore, we can safely say that no suffering is without a purpose in the plan of God, even though we as finite humans may not see that purpose clearly. Having a purpose in life and suffering is extremely important for human beings.
4. How could a good God allow so much evil? Why doesn’t He do something about it? Couldn’t God have created a world without evil?
He did. And humans, Adam and Eve ruined it. God then sent His only son. All we have to do all he asks is that we except his Son’s terrible sacrifice on the cross, his death his burial his resurrection to set things right in this world. All we have to do is except Jesus into our lives by believing this.
The Apostle Paul suffered much in his life and ministry. A litany of that suffering can be found in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. Paul was killed for his testimony and according to universal tradition was decapitated after a long imprisonment. However, during this time, he wrote this testimony to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Another purpose for suffering is to be a witness to those watching that God’s grace and strength is sufficient to enable a believer to stand in that suffering (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Paul also gives us an example as to how we should view suffering as a child of God. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). And Paul also said, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Therefore, however a believer dies, in suffering or in relative peace, it is but a transition to “face to face” with the LORD. Once that transition has been made, all of the sorrow and pain of the suffering will end. “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” (Revelation 21:4
This here’s what it means in John 316 of the Bible that we should have eternal life and not perish or die. A nonbeliever once pointed out to me that everybody dies. But now we can see that there is life after death for believer and unbeliever. The life of the nonbeliever is horrible and we don’t want to contemplate it. But the life of the believer will be in an eternal life of joy, no sorrow, no tears, no pain. . . a life of love!
“ God so LOVED the world (people) that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
HE LOVE US SO MUCH? I do not know. It is LOVE’S mystery. All we have to do is grab on to God and believe what he says, take him at his word and love him back.
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Stay tuned to the Holy Spirit.