The Christian and Suffering

Any of you read Ted Dekker’s Christian suspense novels? My friend Jana sent his Circle Trilogy home with me after our wonderful June visit to her family’s home…and during my bout with poison sumac, I read the whole set–couldn’t put them down! (Jana, did you know he’s working on Green, book zero in this set?) Recently, I checked his Martyr’s Song series out from our church library, and I’m pondering the truths of the following paragraphs taken from When Heaven Weeps:

Take this in remembrance of Me, Christ had said. Participate in the suffering of Christ, Paul had said.

And yet Americans turned forgetting into a kind of spiritual badge, refusing to look at suffering for fear they might catch it like a disease. They turned the death of Christ into soft fuzzy Sunday school pictures and refused to let those pictures get off the page and walk bloody into their minds. They stripped Christ of his dignity by ignoring the brutality of his death. It was no different from turning away from a puffy-faced leper in horror. The epitome of rejection.”

And from later on in the book,

“Realism allows us to participate in one’s suffering and voyeurism takes pleasure from it. The two are like white and black. But many Christians would shut the suffering of the saints from their minds; it’s not what Christ had in mind. He knew his disciples would want to forget, so he asked them to drink his blood and eat his body in remembrance. The writer of Hebrews tells us to imagine we are there, with those in suffering. I ask you, why is the church so eager to run from it?”

I’m spending a bit of time each morning re-reading and re-absorbing Joanna Weaver’s Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. I welled up with tears time and time again as I read the chapter entitled, Lessons from Lazarus. It covers suffering and the how-to’s of trusting God’s character, relinquishing control, developing faith and hanging in there during the times when you haven’t a clue if God is going to proceed with a comma or end things with a period. And how to accept His will either way.

I have to wonder if my sensitivity and continued musings on this subject of suffering mean that some is coming my way quickly. Kind of scary to look up at my girls as they work feverishly on their geography postcards, and wonder what God has in store for this family of mine. To think of my dear, strong man, hard at work and wonder if we’ll be blessed with fifty plus years together. What will he look like when he’s grizzled and gray-haired? Will I be around to see it? All those “what if’s”? And then there are the million sureties that in this life, we will have the day-to-day trials to face and conquer by God’s grace.

Yes, I find this subject very fascinating, as you can see by all my posts I’ve linked to below. I’ve included a little snippet or synopsis beside each one, if you too, wanted to take a closer look.

Are You Willing? Jesus was willing to take up His cross, how about you and me? Are we equipped for it?

Contentment: Caught Between Bitter and Sweet “…something I heard Greg Laurie say on Christian radio the other day. I was driving, so of course, I don’t have this verbatim, but he made the point of how humiliating a death sentence a Roman crucifixion was…a death reserved for the very worst of criminals. Jesus was willing to die that type of death for us, and He tells us in the Bible to “Take up your cross and follow Me.” Are we to think that living the Christian life will be one of ease and prosperity? If it were, wouldn’t people be flocking to Christ in droves…all for the wrong reasons?”

Exploring Dying to Self “The path toward humility is death to self. When self is dead, humility has been perfected. Jesus humbled Himself unto death, and by His example the way is opened for us to follow. A dead man or woman does not react to an offense. The truth is, if we become offended by the words of others, then death to self has not been finished. When we humble ourselves despite injustice and there is perfect peace of heart, then death to self is complete. Death is the seed, while humility is the ripened fruit.” (commentary by Alice Smith on Galatians 2:20)

The Coal-Diamond Transformation “My mother always said she was just a lump of coal and the hardships and difficult people that crossed her path were just helping her to more quickly become a diamond.”

God Knows the Way In this post we’re reminded that nothing we endure is foreign to God, He knows every detail and has a plan…just remember Job and Joseph and their trials! How awesome it is to do a scripture hunt for scriptures that have the words, “but God” in them: Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, in order to bring about this present result…” NASB

Fatith Lesson? No Thank You. How God can make roads through our personal mountainous trials (Isaiah 49:10-11) IF we accept His workings in our life…

Blessed Be the Name Has your road been marked with suffering? Then practice Hebrews 13:15.

“Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name”

3 thoughts on “The Christian and Suffering”

  1. I have read most of his books and “Adam” scared me a bit. I am usually not that easy to scare, because I used to be a huge Stephen King and Anne Rice fan, but this one I did feel the creeper-jeepers after I finished it.

    If you haven’t, check out Frank Peretti, his books are just as good, maybe even a bit better than Dekker.

    Leticia’s last blog post..Could Sarah Palin juggle family, vice presidency?

  2. It’s interesting to think of how much we want to put suffering out of our minds. Whether it’s the Passion Week of Christ, 9/11 or Martyrs around the world we’re almost too comfortable to understand and sympathize with what’s going on in the world.

    As I write this, I wonder if I’m doing enough to help those in suffering, to reach those in need. What strong conviction!

    MInTheGap’s last blog post..You Want to Do What With My Money?

  3. Hi Leticia! I’ve read three or four of Peretti’s novels, and liked them all. I read This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness in high school and they scared me to death, being very naive about spiritual oppression, etc. So far I’ve liked Ted Dekker’s stuff, but probably will steer away from “Adam” just based on what you mentioned! I’m not into horror/freaky stuff…but I really like the way Dekker makes you think about things!

    MIn, I know! I’ve been terribly convicted in this area. We are so spoiled here in America. To feel “poor” and yet have SO MUCH more than billions of others, is a farce and it must hurt our Savior so much to see our selfishness. And our comfort levels continue to escalate, requiring more and more to make us happy. I struggle with balancing this!

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