Suffering: My Friend

I have lived with unnamed chronic pain some 13 years now.  As I asked my pastor yesterday, “Please don’t pray for alleviation, unless God is finished using this tool.  …I’m just now learning to befriend it.”  Through study and various doctors and tests we have narrowed it down and are investigating possibly RA and fibromyalgia.  We try meds, we wait to see what happens, we try and learn all we can, we pray, we trust. Mostly the last two.

At my pastor’s suggestion, some months ago I did an intensive study through Job.  I had never done that before, nor had I considered my own lot in life to qualify for “real suffering.”  This study was of immeasurable benefit to me.  I journaled through my reading, using good commentaries along the way to help instruct and lend some objectivity to my gleanings.  I have been amazed at how many times small snippets will come across my path from most every direction, just when I have needed encouragement.  Here are a couple quotes that have been empowering to me this week:

“Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties.” – Charles H. Spurgeon

“Suffering is not retribution. It’s surgery.” – Anonymous

“We are too needy to be satisfied by a mere creature.” – John Owen

“Thanks to God that I am not the Author, else it would never have begun. Praise to God that I am not the Finisher, else it could never be complete.” (don’t know where this came from, but I liked it!)

Cowman’s Streams in the Desert (read it here for free, daily) has been just that for me.  Hymn texts like “In My Weakness” and “I Run to Christ”  as well as many old, familiar “friends” have strengthened me.

Verses like these have been my moorings:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13 (my “life verse” since college)

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Cor. 12:9 (there was  a time when I would not have dared to consider myself worthy to claim this one…to put myself on the same plain with Paul…God has instructed me otherwise.  It’s not about my worthiness, but His!)

“I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.” Ps 71:16 (and I have learned I not only “go” in His strength, but that it is also required to “be still”…sometimes even moreso)

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1 Pet 4:12,13 (this trial is not “strange”…God knows every nook and cranny of it and has a design for it, because He is always purposeful)

“But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10 (this is all a purification process…one that is required in order to remove all the dross of sin that is in me…and He is aware of it all and with me all the way)

God’s word is alive and powerful.  The power of the resurrection which we just recently celebrated is abundantly sufficient to route any and all of the effects of sin.  All the pain, suffering, weakness, anxiety, frustration, tears…become empowerments when I humbly give them to Him.

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4 thoughts on “Suffering: My Friend

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Diane. I didn’t know this was something you had to deal with.

    Have you ever read Elisabeth Elliot’s A Path Through Suffering or Joni Eareckson Tada’s When God Weeps? Those are both excellent books: both ladies have had their share of suffering and can speak from experience. Amy Carmichael’s Rose From Brier is good, too — she spent the latter portion of her life as an invalid and realized that many things written “for the ill” didn’t resonate with her because they were written by well people telling sick people how they ought to feel. 🙂 So she put some of the things she had written for her Dohnavur family into book form.

    I especially like Spurgeon’s quote.

  2. Barbara, I have read and shared “Rose From Brier” many times. I agree…it is an absolute gem. Thanks for the other suggestions, too.

  3. Hi Diane,
    I just finished last week working through the book “Beyond Suffering” by Layton Talbert. It took me about 4 months to go through it copying down so much from it into the margins of my Bible. It was so helpful to me – I highly recommend it. His section on how to comfort the hurting was great, and I loved his outline of how to respond to God’s apparent silence based on Psalm 46. Also his exhortation to not think a person can know everything about God – even though we can know everything He has REVEALED – there is a lot he hasn’t revealed. Related to this he makes a great case for believing BOTH the Sovereignty of God and the Responsibility of Man as BOTH are clearly in scripture . I have just found your blog and plan to visit often!

  4. Renee, thanks for the kind comments and the info on the book. Sounds very interesting…and that it would mesh very well with my gleanings from the Job study! See you again soon! 🙂

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