“Maybe the reason for the pain is so we would pray for strength; and maybe the reason for strength is so that we would not lose hope; and maybe the reason for all hope is so that we could face the world; and the reason for the world, is to make us long for home. For God so loved your broken heart He sent His son to where you are and he died to give a reason for the world.” Reason for the World by Matthew West
Loss. Suffering. Pain. Sickness. Loneliness.
Sadly, suffering and grief is something that we all have in common; it’s just everyone holds their own story and it comes in many different forms of difficulty. Suffering is to experience pain or hardship – mentally or physically. Much too often we make a common mistake of believing that we are on this earth in pursuit of our own happiness. (yet isn’t it ironic that most pain and suffering come from the things that we think will make us the happiest?)
As Christians, we are encouraged all throughout the Bible to endure hardships, keep our faith in Christ and to remember the hope we have in eternal life. We are reminded many times, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are those who give, blessed is the one who trusts… We are reminded that we are to be like Christ, to serve Him and in doing that, we serve others… “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
There is a woman that I’ve heard about whom lost her husband and had to raise her two boys alone. They both grew up and got found wives to marry. Ten years later, the two boys lost their lives, leaving these three women now all alone. The mother-in-law packed up her stuff and planned to move closer to other family. One of the daughters-in-law decide to go with her, to comfort her, rather than going back to her other family. She ends up becoming a believer in God and being used in the ministry of Christ. Does she sound familiar to you? Yep. I am talking about Ruth, who happens to be the great grandmother of King David.
This family experiences a lot of loss. It began with a famine in the land making them pack up and move in search of food. They experience death of loved ones, a suffering that leaves you feeling hopeless, sad and extreme hurt. Naomi, the mother-in-law, expresses anxiety and grief with Ruth, even changes her name to Mara, meaning bitter and Ruth still stood by her side. As they left the land to head to Bethlehem, Ruth gave up everything she had left – including her heritage (Moabites) to their enemy (Israelites). Talk about loneliness and a loss of what to do next! Even upon their return to Bethlehem, there was a lot of work to do while still dealing with the heartache and life changing events that have occurred. Through obedience and through God’s providence, Ruth worked in the field of Boaz, whom she soon marries and begins the genealogy for the soon to be King David of all of Israel.
This sad but beautiful story shares with us so much about grief and suffering. It shares perseverance and hope, and God’s sovereignty and His handiwork. It comforts us as we go through times of change and how we should handle tough situations. It reminds us that we serve a God who loves us, even in this dark world that is full of disappointment, suffering, loneliness, and hurt. Like the song lyrics say, the reason for this world is to make us long for home and we have a Savior that can guide us and comfort us and help us lead others to find that hope so that we can have the strength to face this world until we make it home.
As much as life has trials that bring along pain, loss, grief, loneliness, etc, life also brings us success, joy, good health, strength, love, and much much more promising joyous days. “Every day may not be good but there is good in every day.” I cannot agree more but some days it is hard to proclaim that. I get it. Some days, it takes a little more effort and maybe all that we have to ‘rejoice and be glad in the day that the Lord made.’ What gives?
- Attitude… 2. Gratitude… 3. Magnitude…
It all begins with your attitude. Joy is not a result of chance or circumstance, it is a choice you make to find it – in the good and in the bad. It is how you choose to view and value the situation. The Bible says in Phil 4:8 to think and dwell on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good, and honorable. He says to meditate on these things so that we can know that the God of peace is with us, says vs 9. Having this mindset leads us naturally have more gratitude. We learn to be content and thankful for the big and the small. We tend to focus more on the good and find value in the trials we go through. When we are thankful towards our loving and gracious God, our trials and sufferings are seen through different lenses. We have a purpose for the pain and we grow becoming more like Christ and less like those of the world. As we change our attitude and offer more gratitude, we begin to see His magnitude. David expresses the magnitude of God in Psalm 139. We serve a great God, the creator of this earth and its beauty and the creator of you and me. How great His love is for us.
There is nothing too big that our God cannot handle. He pleads us to come to Him so that He can comfort us. He encourages us through Bible examples to hang in there during the sufferings of this life. He gives us the formula to having a better attitude. He comes to earth in human flesh, endures trials, temptations, loss, sadness and gladness so that he could show compassion and grace and that we could learn from Him and show others.
As we all probably realize, it doesn’t have to be a death for someone to experience a loss nor can any form of suffering be measured by someone from the outside. We just need to remember that the way we respond needs to be with an attitude of gratitude remembering His magnitude. He will give you rest.
“Be kinder than necessary, for everyone is fighting some sort of battle.” J.M. Barrie