Suffering

Share Your Suffering

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Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

We all lose people, but that doesn’t make it any easier. We all go through changes that feel devastating and hurt deeply. We all feel pain regularly, whether we show it or not.

This year has been a hard year for me, in more ways than one. I lost two people personally, one to suicide. Two of my siblings from foster care moved away after more than a year with us. So many people around me lost people as well and I saw their pain. Little things have been adding stress to my day to day life, even though most of them are good. I’m getting ready to leave for college next year. I was a counselor in training at a camp for four weeks this summer. I was moved to a position of leadership in a discipleship team. All good things, but for some reason, very hard.

I have struggled with my feelings through all of this. (Yes, this is going to be a post about feelings – but I think it’s important to talk about) When leaving for college feels overwhelming, I think I’m doing something wrong. Surely I should be excited about such a big step! When I don’t want to go to work, I think that I’m feeling the wrong thing: there’s no reason to be frustrated, I’ve got to earn money somehow. When I lost someone to suicide, I didn’t think it should hurt as much as it did. Other people were closer to him.

Through this year, I have learned an important lesson: This world is wrong. And it’s okay to feel that.

When Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, sin entered the world, bringing with it death and pain. Those things have not left since then. They’re still here. We’re surrounded by the results of the fall every day of our lives and sometimes it makes us cry. Sometimes we long for Heaven not because we want to see God, but because we want to escape the pain. I know. I’ve felt that this year more than ever.

But then we might think that we need to be stronger than this. We’re supposed to have a hope within us, right? We’re supposed to lean on God and He will take care of our anxieties. He will give us strength to overcome the hurt and the struggles.

It’s easy to fall into thinking that we aren’t supposed to feel this much pain, for some reason or another. Maybe we need to put on a good face to the other believers around us. Maybe we think the tears hurt our witness that God is stronger than sin. Whatever the reason, it’s not true.

Have you ever seen someone try to cover up their pain? You hurt for them and you want to tell them that it’s okay, they can feel these things. Well, it’s time for us to tell ourselves that too. We don’t need to be stronger than the tears and the hurt. It’s not healthy to try to fight through on our own. It is healthy to share the pain.

When we pour out our hearts to our brothers and sisters in Christ, we feel better. Maybe not right away, but we have shared our burden, as the church is called to do. They may not have answers for us – in fact, they often don’t. We don’t understand why we’re allowed to suffer so much. But they can grieve with us and point us to Christ. And that’s what we need. We don’t need someone to say that it’ll all work out in the end and tell us to pull ourselves up by our boot straps. We need a fellow human to share our hurt and just be with us, knowing that we struggle and don’t understand, but staying anyway.

It’s not always easy to share what hurts so much with the people around us. Especially when we want to keep up appearances. I plastered on a “sad smile” when I told people about my friend’s death. A few times, that fake strength gave way to real tears and real questioning, and my family in Christ did not seem to mind. They prayed for me and encouraged me. They cried with me. It turned out that even though it hurt, many of them wanted to share my burden.

So please don’t bury your pain. This world is wrong, we all know. And we’re here to both rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). There is a better world coming. I know we can’t always see it or feel the joy that we think we’re supposed to exude as believers. And that’s okay. Keep suffering, friend. The church is here for you.

Kira

You Can’t Handle This

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“Just remember, God won’t ever give you anything you can’t handle.”

Those words make me want to shake my head, groan, glare, and sigh. It’s one of the go-to statements of friends of the hurting and often pops up in Bible studies about suffering. And the words sound good. They really do. When I’m struggling and wrestling with something hard, it would be nice to believe that it’s all okay and God wouldn’t let it happen if I couldn’t handle it.

The problem, though, is that it’s just wrong. Of course God will give us things we can’t handle! In fact, that’s basically His plan for your whole life.

We were not created to be self-sufficient and able to do all things by our own power no matter the pain. Also, God does not take a look at us before sending something hard in order to evaluate how He thinks we’ll hold up.

God puts us through things we can’t handle on purpose because the benefits are light-years greater than the pain. When we are in the middle of something devastating is the time when we have to look to God to step in and deliver us. They are the times when our faith is stretched farther than we thought it could go and our Lord proves Himself once again.

If you think back over your life, aren’t the really difficult times the ones that made the biggest impact on who you are today? I couldn’t handle my little sister being taken away by my own strength, but my faith has grown. And aren’t they generally the times that are followed by God’s great provision?

We are made to need support, something that today’s culture is trying to erase from our minds. Feminism tells women that they are strong and independent and don’t need men to help them. Movies and books tell kids that they’re better off without their parents or teachers, who lack the intelligence to present themselves respectably.

The Bible tells us the exact opposite. It contains countless examples of community and fellowship. Paul traveled with lots of different people and mentioned how they helped him in his ministry and persecution in his epistles. Adam was given Eve as a companion and helpmeet. Even Jesus brought His disciples with Him.

More important than human community is community with God. As I read 1 Corinthians a few days ago, a verse really stuck out to me. Paul is talking about how there shouldn’t be any divisions in the church between people who want to follow him or Apollos or anyone else. We should all be following God. So he is explaining how the church is built and grows by God’s work through us.

For we are God’s fellow workers. – 1 Corinthians 3:9a

Very short, but very powerful. We are not called to brave this life on our own, fighting every villain and slaying every dragon. Our God is there for us and we are called to work alongside Him. How humbling is that?

God will give you things you can’t handle – you can be sure of that. But when He does, He’ll also help you through, which is infinitely more encouraging.

Kira

How did you grow or learn when God gave you something you couldn’t get through by yourself? How did it lead to where you are now?