Suffering Has Always Been a Part of Life

What Are You Going to Do About It?

Suffering and perspective have been a common theme over the past several weeks. It started with the importance of making every day a day of thanksgiving. There’s no question that there’s suffering in the world. It’s been this way since Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden.

Looking back through history at things people have had to endure is easy to read or talk about, but we can’t really compare our current situations to those. We haven’t had to wander around in the wilderness for 40 years with no place to call home. Or be imprisoned in a concentration camp because of our religion. Or lived in a sod house without any electricity, water, central HVAC, and not being able to go to the store to get food.

Sure, there are things every day that are difficult, but we’ve become spoiled!

Doug Miller presented the message Sunday in Pastor Lee’s absence. The point of his message was one of hope, support, and perspective. If anyone can speak to suffering, it’s the Miller family. They dealt with the death of both a mother and a daughter within a week in December. You can see the heart felt message here.

Of course, we want a world without suffering but that’s not going to happen. Doug pointed out that they’re doing okay because of being supported by family, friends, and prayer.

Support of family and friends is critical to well-being.

They found blessings in part because they were looking for them. Looking for this support started long ago being raised in the family and church that they were. All along the way decisions were being made that lead to this place. The decisions we make today will have consequences in the future.

Choose your friends well. Life is hard, but it’s harder if you try to go it alone.

This also means that we need to be willing to be good friends, because there’s always a need for good friends. You can choose your friends. You can choose to be a friend. You can choose how you will deal with life’s difficulties.

You can choose!

We Want a World Without Suffering

There is No Such Thing, This Side of Heaven

There is no question that the world has plenty of examples of suffering. Why, we ask, would a loving God permit pain and suffering? Ultimately, this is a question that you will have to ask Him.

Suffering is critical to us becoming who we’re meant to be.

If everything was easy, we would not be able to accomplish all that we are supposed to. Nature is full of examples of this.

When a baby giraffe is born it falls 4’-5’ feet to the ground. Then as it is trying to get up the mother kicks it, again and again. Working through this struggle the baby giraffe learns to get up. In a matter of hours, it’s prepared for lions, hyenas and wild dogs.

Or, what about butterflies pushing to get out of the cocoon they find themselves wrapped up in. We’ve all heard about someone helping a butterfly with this process and then the butterfly’s ends up being too weak to fly.

We are no different. Sure, it would be nice if we didn’t have to suffer, but this would leave us weak and unprepared for life. Suffering makes us stronger.

While everything else follows its instincts and does what comes naturally…we humans think and think and think… Rather than embracing the struggles and learning and growing, we want things to be easy. We think we know better than God how things should be.

Easy leads to a life void of meaning.

In Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he outlines his theory of logotherapy. Logotherapy says, “The primary motivational force of an individual is to find meaning in life.” This theory helped him to survive his Holocaust experience. Being in a concentration camp as a Jew…that’s real suffering.

Frankl says there are three things needed to experience a life of meaning:

  • Finding a worthwhile project to work on and working on it
  • Understanding suffering and viewing it from a productive perspective
  • Working through life’s challenges with other people

Too much of the time people drift through life accepting things as they are rather than doing something about them. We have more control than that. Sure, there are things that happen that are out of our control but, we have way more control than we choose to believe.

God knew what he was doing when He created the world. He knew we would need help, so He sent Jesus. Include Jesus in your group when you’re working through life’s challenges.

We can choose to embrace life’s difficulties and be stronger…or not!