Today, I reference Seeing Beyond the Suffering This Year, by Ray Pritchard. This wonderful article was the 'Topical Bible Study' by Bible Study Tools on January 3rd, 2013. I gained much from it, so I wish to share it with you! It helped me formulate a plan of attack and brought much peace. Please visit the above link to read the entire article. It is long, but well worth the time spent to make a study of it. Meanwhile, here are a few choice snippets:
"Life is hard. Does anyone reading these words have any question about that? I didn’t think so. Because we live in a fallen world, nothing works the way it’s supposed to. Sin has stained every part of the physical universe. And sin has deeply infected the human bloodstream. Things break. Our bodies wear out. We grow old and die. People kill each other. Marriages break up. Children get hooked on drugs or alcohol or sex. Or all three. Babies are born with defects that cannot be corrected. Priests molest children. Pastors commit adultery. Our friends disappoint us. And we disappoint our friends. One day we wake up to find out that we’re being sued by a former colleague. Or the boss decides that we aren’t the right “fit,” whatever that means."
"There is abroad in the land today the notion that the Christian life is easy. It isn’t. Whoever said that it was? Jesus did say that his yoke was easy and burden was light, but that was in comparison to the Pharisees, and anyway, an easy yoke is a yoke nonetheless. He also talked about taking up your cross daily, denying yourself, and following him. Nothing easy about that.
"Lest I be misunderstood, I hasten to say that the Christian life is the best life there is because it’s the only true life. To know Christ is to know God and to know God is to have eternal life. Jesus himself said that anything you give up will be repaid many times over in this life, and much more in the life to come (Mark 10:29-30). The paradox is this: If you follow Christ, you have to lose your life in order to save it. You have to go to the cross every day in order to discover the power of the resurrection. You have to die to find abundant life. You have to reckon yourself dead to sin in order to experience the fullness of life in Christ."
"Here are four principles that help us think clearly about our trials:
1) Because we live in a fallen world, bad things happen to all of us.
2) We have no control over many things that happen to us or to those around us.
3) We do have complete control over how we respond.
4) Our response to our trials largely determines our spiritual growth—or lack thereof."
" “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2)."
"As I have pondered the matter, and considered my own difficulties with this concept, the thought occurs that “counting it all joy” when troubles come is not a natural response. If we want a natural response, we can talk about anger or despair or complaining or getting even or running away. It isn’t “natural” to find joy in hardship. But that’s the whole point. James isn’t talking about a “natural” reaction. He’s talking about a “supernatural” reaction made possible by the Holy Spirit who enables us to see and to respond from God’s point of view."
"If we can make the choice to view life that way, then we can make the following statements about our struggles and our trials:
1) This is sent from the Lord.
2) This is necessary for my spiritual growth."
"Here’s a practical hint. Don’t trust your feelings!"
"No doubt our main problem comes because we misunderstand the word “joy.” In contemporary parlance, the word is virtually a synonym for happiness. Joy to many people speaks of a pep rally or a champagne party or a New Year’s Eve bash. To us, joy means the absence of all pain. But that’s not at all what the Bible means. Here’s a working definition: Joy is deep satisfaction that comes from knowing that God is in control even when my circumstances seem to be out of control. The key to joy is knowing that God is in control. If you know that, you can be satisfied at a very deep level even while you weep over what is happening around you and to you."
"...excessive grief can be selfish..."
"A. Remind yourself of the promises of God."
"B. Give thanks for what you can give thanks for."
"C. Refuse to give in to bitterness and despair."
"D. Choose to believe in God."
"E. Make up your mind to go on with life."
"This is what David did [II Samuel 12]. This is what we must do. Grief is good and proper and is healing and even ennobling, but after grief has done its work of healing and helping, then we must move on. The past is gone and we can’t go back. Don’t try. You can’t live in yesterday. And you can’t even live in today. The voice of God calls us onward toward tomorrow. Several years ago I formulated a principle I call the First Law of Spiritual Progress. It goes like this:
I can’t go back.
I can’t stay here.
I must go forward."
"What is God trying to do when he allows his children to go through hard trials and deep suffering? There are several answers to that question. First, God wants to purge us of sin and to purify us of iniquity. Second, God uses suffering to test our faith. Will you still obey God in the darkness? Will you serve God when things aren’t going your way? Will you hold on to the truth when you feel like giving up? Third, God uses times of difficulty to humble us. When things are going well, we tend to get puffed up about our accomplishments. But let the darkness fall and we are on our knees crying out to God. Fourth, God definitely uses hard times to prepare us to minister to others. He comforts us so that we may comfort others. I know many Christians whose greatest ministry has come from sharing with others how God helped them through a time of crisis. Fifth, I believe God uses hard times to prepare us for a new understanding of his character. In the furnace we discover God’s goodness in a way we had never experienced it before."
"God’s great design is to produce “perseverance.” The Greek word is hupomone, sometimes translated as “endurance” or “steadfastness” or “patience.” In the book of Revelation, this word describes the faith of those brave saints who would not take the Mark of the Beast. Thus it describes a certain kind of “battle-tested” faith that stands up under withering fire from the enemy and does not cut and run."
"“Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4)."
"When trials have finished their work in us, we will not lack anything the Lord wants us to have. If we need faith, we will have it. If we need hope, we will have it. If we need love, we will have it. If we need any of the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), it will be produced in us. Nothing will be left out; nothing will be left behind."
" "In order to make this as simple as possible, I’d like to boil my sermon down to just two words. When hard times come, when trials fall upon us, or we seem to fall upon them, when the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune knock us to the ground, what should we do? Remember these two words.
"Pray and stay. Repeat that out loud. PRAY and STAY.
"Don’t run. Don’t hide. Don’t shake your fist at God. Don’t start arguing with the Almighty. And don’t waste time trying to make excuses or empty promises. And don’t try to bargain your way out of trouble. It doesn’t work, and you don’t have anything to bargain with anyway.
"Pray and stay. Pray and stay. Pray and stay."
"Pray: Seek God’s face. Spend time with the Lord. Listen for his voice. Ask God, “What are you trying to teach me? Speak, Lord, and I will listen to your voice.”
"Stay: Wait. Be patient. Don’t rush God. (You can’t rush him!) Refuse to run away. Affirm by faith that God is at work even though he seems invisible and your life seems chaotic."
"The Choice is Ours:
"Joy or bitterness.
"Forgiveness or anger.
"Trust or unbelief.
"Faith or fear.
"Love or hatred.
"Kindness or malice.
"Temperance or self-indulgence.
"Gentleness or stubbornness.
"Mercy or revenge.
"Peace or worry.
"Hope or despair."
Scripture Cited by Ray Pritchard:
I Peter 5:8
Acts 14:22 ESV
II Timothy 2:3 ESV
II Samuel 12
II Samuel 12:15
II Samuel 12:23 NKJV