No one likes the word suffering, it means pain, discomfort, sickness. Yet, we have suffering as long we live on the broken, sin-infested earth.
Abandonment afflicts children.
Illness attacks.
Poverty deprives.
Lack leaves hungry bellies and empty bank accounts.

What is the purpose of suffering?

I have pondered this question much over the last year as I have suffered illness and the past twelve years as I have watched my children, handicapped from wounds of the their traumatic past.

Does suffering has a purpose or is it just the result of living in a fallen world where people use their free will to mistreat others?

Last week I started some new medications which “will initially give you Flu-like symptoms and make you feel worse”- my doctor.

“Do not get discouraged!” he said, reminding me that I would begin to improve after the initial symptoms.

Suffer to heal. Where have I heard that?

Jesus suffered the pain of the cross for the joy set before Him.

Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

We have to suffer to heal:
painful treatments,
denying the flesh,
facing the past,
plowing new ground to sow better seeds,
letting go of hurt to reach for healing.

2Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.

3Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.

4But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing. James 1: 2-4

Our response to suffering is more important than escaping it. This is a hard good word. ‘Consider it wholly joyfully’? In most instances, we want to escape pain not be joyful about it.

Give thanks in all circumstances…. I Thessalonians 5:18

All things work together for good…. Romans 8:28

Those who suffer are able to empathize with others who suffer.

Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

What’s growing in your life?

any of a diverse group of eukaryotic single-celled or multinucleate organisms that live by decomposing and absorbing the organic material in which they grow, comprising the mushrooms, molds, mildews, smuts, rusts, and yeasts, and classified in the kingdom Fungi or, in some classification systems, in the division Fungi (Thallophyta) of the kingdom Plantae.

This is one of Ania’s wonderful nature pictures. She just finished a science unit of the kingdom Plantae including the study of mushrooms. She has a new outlook on the life form-‘disgusting!” She has informed me that she definitely will not eat mushrooms anymore. They live by eating decomposing- that means rotting- things. Gross!

Sometimes I aml like a mushroom when I try to live on rotting material. For instance, if my children are my source and they are hurt and putting out anger and I don’t turn to the Lord to fill me up, I can be a mushroom. I will start producing the anger and bitterness myself.

This afternoon, I had a mini epiphany. I was singing along while my nephew Aaron sang and played a worship song on his guitar. I messed up slightly, missing a rest and one of my teens immediately jumped on it, correcting me. “Mom, you came in too early, you missed counting the rest!” I quit singing and felt an immediate stab in the gut. The pain wasn’t so much the present correction as it was my realization. Years ago, I played the guitar and sang on a regular basis, just at home. I didn’t aspire to be on a record label or anything, I just love to sing praises to my Lord. For years, the Guires started the day with mom playing the guitar and everyone singing. Slowly, the kids’ comments ate away at my musical determination.
“Do we have to sing?”
“I don’t want to do this!”
“This is boring!”
“I am not singing your stupid songs around the campfire!”

So, I QUIT. I gave my guitar away and I quit. I gave it up for them. Now these same children have the gall to excel in music on the guitar, mandolin, and the violin, not to mention SINGING.

My epiphany? I shouldn’t have given up on what I loved because someone else complained. No, it is not my children’s fault that I gave it up. My feelings were hurt. I was the mushroom, taking in decompostion instead of maintaing my postition.

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

I should have trusted in the Lord and not my own insight all those years ago. I am glad of this, I must have played long enough for my children to love music. Listen to them play and sing! Next time you see me I will be singing or fiddling!

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