Suffering and the Word of God

The Bible is the inspired word of God. From it, what we know about God exists. This book is the greatest and most valuable resource in the lives of all human beings.  By it we can know the things of God, who he is, and what he is like. We can learn about his sacrificial love for us, and the rescue plan he has been working out since the beginning of the world. This is the greatest book of all time.

From this book I find comfort and strength.  I find the answers to hard questions, and I find joy in the promises it contains.

A few weeks ago it rained.  The wind was howling, the tree branches were whipping in the wind, and water poured from the sky.  Raindrops hit the windows of my home with strength and what seemed like purpose. It seemed like the weather was mimicking how I felt and what was happening to me. My life was a storm and a wicked one at that. Wet, cold, dark, and scary.  Was I strong enough to endure this again? Have I not learned some lesson that I need to? Am I to be an example to others in this pain?

Suffering is a part of the Christian life.  We all will have trials and hardship. The reality of suffering is something we like to minimize and at times flat ignore. But the truth is that Jesus suffered! Jesus endured the most horrific hardship on the cross, so that we may be reconciled to the Father and made heirs with Christ.

I was suffering. In 2009, I had two of my babies die before they were 10 weeks old inside my body. I have miscarried twice.  Miscarriage is an invisible death. I never held these children, I never kissed them, I never lost sleep over them, or enjoyed them. But I was their mother. I mothered them for as long I as I kept them inside my body. I am still their mother and I look forward to the day in eternity that I will see their faces and hold them, kiss them, and enjoy them. But until that day, the reality of the loss of my babies is a real, true and present suffering that I was chosen to endure.

I tell you this because the scriptures brought me the only real comfort I could grasp.  God spoke to me through his word revealing to me truth.

Romans 8:17 says, “and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may be glorified with him.”

Suffering is something we get to endure as mere humans so that we may share in the Glory of Christ.

1Pet. 4:12-13 says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at he fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”
Now, I don’t want you to hear that I was chipper after I had miscarried. I was downcast, depressed and about as far as you can be emotionally from joyful, but God was faithfully showing me that he counted me worthy to join in his sufferings so that I could share in his glory.  Sharing in the suffering of Christ is honorable.

We do not suffer because God is absent or do we suffer because God points his finger down at us from heaven shouting “SUFFER” at us.  God is not surprised by our suffering, nor is He the direct cause of it.

We live in a fallen world, a world that isn’t as it should be. We live in a place when sickness, death and pain still rule and reign. Sufferings is an enigma to the Christian, because this side of eternity we know that this isn’t the way it was meant to be. Our eternal soul longs for the, “not yet.” The place where death has lost its victory and death has lost its sting!  We long for the new heavens and the new earth. We long for the time before sin had corrupted God perfect creation.  But that place isn’t here. Here it is hard and often times wretched.  But we have another promise:

In Romans 8:28 We learn that, “ …for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

God works all things together for our good. But that doesn’t mean that all things that happen to us are good!  When we are in a time of trial or great suffering or know someone who is, we need to pay appropriate seriousness to the issue at hand. Our sinful tendencies can lead us to trivialize, sentimentalize, or celebrate suffering. Saying things like, “Well, what you are going through isn’t nearly as hard as what she has been through.” Or “ But can’t you the blessings that are going to come from this?” or “Wow, you must have a super special calling on your life to have been chosen for this.” All of these responses are sinful. Finding the appropriate response to another’s suffering is often a great challenge. But as Christians we must preservers until we can do this.

I believe that how we come to an appropriate response to another’s suffering is not to waste our own.

Did she really, just say that? Don’t waste your suffering. Yes I did.

When we endure a trial, we are able to relate to another person in a way that someone who hasn’t endure that trail will never be able to. To not engage, minister to, or simply love a sister who shares in your same suffering is wasting it! We need to suffer to the glory of God.

1Corinthians 10:31 says, “ So whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

You need to not waste your breast cancer. You need to not waste the adultery committed against you. You need to not waste your infertility. You need to not waste your financial struggles. You need to not waste your sickness. You need to not waste your pain. You need to not waste your broken family. You need to not waste the death of your child. You need to not waste your life.

Richard Simms in his book The Bruised Reed says, “After conversion we need bruising so that reeds may know themselves to be reeds and not oaks… Such bruising may help weaker Christians not to be too much discouraged when they see stronger ones shaken and bruised.”

The people of God cannot be with these examples, Peoples bruises minister to us like their victories never can.

We {often} rise up to God in pride, while God descends to us in humility. We look for God in the powerful places; in the health and wealth and happiness; in perfect families and prosperous nations, but God is truly found in the weak things of this world. –Michael Horton, Too good to be true: finding hope in a world of hype.

So my standing here talking to you is me not wasting my miscarriages. This is me, sharing in my sufferings for the glory of Jesus Christ, so that perhaps we can together find comfort in the cross. I pray my bruises will bring you encouragement.

So a few weeks ago, when it was raining, I had just been told that my fourth pregnancy would most likely end in another miscarriage. My beta Hcg hormones hadn’t doubled like they should, and my doctor had told me to prepare to miscarry again.  I was broken like I had never been broken before. I questioned all over again. I wondered if I was ever going to be a mother to another baby that was alive. I wondered if my womb was a place of death instead of life. I was gripped by an unrelenting fear.  I still believed everything I have just shared with you. I still trusted God and knew that suffering was a part of this life. But I was afraid.

God did a miraculous work in my womb and this little continued to grow.

 After two weekly doctor appointments, where the baby grew and the heart beat increased in strength, my doctor was convinced everything would turn out fine. But I didn’t believe her. I was afraid. I had suffered, I had known the emotions to come, and I wondered why should I expect anything but suffering in this particular situation? I was flat out fearful! And everyone told me that was understandable, everyone except my husband. He told me to repent!

Seriously, I thought as I looked at him standing in the kitchen.  He told me that I need to trust God and that my fear was showing my lack of trust in God ultimate goodness. I had bought into a lie and that I was the cause of the fear I was walking in.

I got mad at him and went to bed.

The next morning I read this by Molly Piper:

This post was written right after the birth of our third child, Morrow. Today he turns 17 months old. So this post is about that old.
I never published it—not sure why.
For those of you newer to our story, our third child was born 8.22.08, 11 months after the stillbirth of his sister, Felicity. But… I kept my pregnancy a secret from my blogging audience until the day I was going in to deliver.
Here’s the original post, written sometime in late 2008.
*          *          *
Many of you were probably a little bit surprised by the news of our third child’s arrival. I am too.
There are a few reasons I haven’t blogged about it.
1. Fear.
Women who have experienced the death of a child often deal with irrational thoughts. I’ve dealt with so many since Felicity’s death. Many of them have been those “if only” thoughts:
If only I had gone into the hospital the night I was having some painful contractions, maybe they just would have let me stay and I’d have her right now.
Others have been more like:
My baby died inside of me. My womb is a place of death.
So much of me has struggled to believe that the birth of a healthy, living child could ever happen for us again.
Maybe God will never do this for me. I’m going to live with the agony of another stillbirth so that he can keep making an example out of me and my suffering.
I don’t want to be an example. I want to be the mother of more than one living child.
So, though I don’t believe in jinxes, I shied away from announcing my pregnancy for a long time, mostly because I was afraid to actually say the words and then have God snuff it out because I was presumptuous and he was going to teach me a lesson about that.
I know these thoughts don’t reflect a belief in a loving God. And I’ve wept even thinking the thoughts. But they’ve been there.
I didn’t even tell my parents for almost five months that we were expecting. It was as though my mouth went dumb every time I tried to bring it up in a phone conversation with them 900 miles away. It was just easier to talk about weather or Orison or what I was making for dinner.
The fears I dealt with throughout this pregnancy were ones that I wanted to deal with personally, first between me and God, then between me and Abraham, then between me and my family and close friends. These concentric circles of trust and support have been what I needed for the duration of my pregnancy.
*          *          *
It’s been about 17 months since I wrote those words. And since then I’ve given birth to a healthy, full-term, living baby. That should prove to me that it’s possible, right? That should take care of my fears, right?
God has indeed proven his faithfulness in many ways in my life since September 2007. But… fears remain. This Christmas I was struck over and over and over with how each person responded to the announcement of Christ’s coming. What was the first thing the angel told each of them (Mary, Joseph, the shepherds)?
“Fear not…”
It’s like the angel knew what a human’s knee-jerk reaction would be—fear.
We’re so stinkin’ fearful, every last one of us. But one thing I’ve been clinging to recently is something my mentor told me when I was dealing with something very fearful for me.
“Hell dances when God’s people are afraid.”
So I can either add to their revery and stew in my fears down here, or I can bring them to the Cross, where God is not spurning them, but hearing them and calming them. If the angels know that we will react fearfully, then surely God knows our inclinations. He’s not surprised by my fears. So I can run to him, and he will embrace me.
I just keep telling myself: He is a loving Father, and not my adversary

-Molly Piper

After the tears stopped rolling down my face, I repented. Then I called Garrett, and told him how much I love him and how he was right.

God is good and his grace or favor is here for is to go through trials, not to go around them.

Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.”

This is not just imagery of a Shepherd, but one of a monarch ruling with his scepter and mace.

We are assured that under Christ’s guardianship that God not satan, is King, that life not death has the last word, righteousness not sin reigns over us, and blessing not condemnation is our inheritance here and now. –Michael Horton: Too good to be true: finding hope in a world of hype

God is the source of all comfort.

2Cor. 1:3-4 says, “ 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 have received from God.”

So for me, the comfort I have received from God allows me to stand before you 10 weeks pregnant, and tell you, that whether I have 10 weeks with this baby, 10 months or 10+ years, I am confidant that the God of the bible, the God I love it worth any trial any suffering and any fear that I endure in this life.

This book, the living word of God is our comfort. It is our refuge, and it is our strength. It is where we find out about the character of God, it is where he loves us, reveals himself to us, and corrects us. And most of all it is where he says, in

Revelation 21:3-4, “ that [we] will be his people and God himself will be with [us]and [our] God. He will wipe every tear from [our] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Truly, being famished for the word of God is a gift. Lets share in it together.