Beyond Suffering

Sometimes life hurts.
In truth, we all deal with it in different was.

Today, around each one of us, is someone that is asking themselves if they can go on, if they can keep moving forward and just not give up.

Some deal with suffering through distractions. Others try to convince themselves that life doesn’t hurt as much as it really does.
They drown out the pain through alcohol, drugs, pornography, eating, or something else.

Others work frantically to put on a smiling face even though they feel like they are falling apart.

Some even begin to doubt the existence or goodness of God. After all, how could a loving God allow suffering?

How do you deal with pain?

We’ve been encouraging attenders at Journey to consider what they really believe about Jesus. We so quickly make assumptions without truly examining His life and His teachings.

Does Jesus have anything to say about pain? About Suffering? About grief?
Better yet, how did He deal with it?
Isaiah 53 tells us this about our Savior.

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isaiah 53:3 (ESV)

Rejected.
A man of sorrows.
Acquainted with grief.
Despised.

I think we all have a tendency to think of Jesus as immune from pain. Instead we read time and time again that He experienced many of the things we deal with. We also know of at least 2 friends that died prematurely…one that was murdered. No doubt He was aware of the fate awaiting his closest band of followers once He left them.

But what if…

What if?

What if suffering isn’t what so many of us believe that it is?
…a punishment.
…an abandonment.
…an injury?

What if suffering, instead, was an invitation?

Throughout Jesus’ life, He never stopped spending time with God, the Father. Even when He grappled with the sacrifice He would need to make in the Garden of Gethsemane, He is found praying as drops of blood fell from his suffering dilemma.

Even when Peter denied Jesus, he would eventually come to realize that the fear of suffering he was fighting was actually an invitation to follow the one who is greater than pain, than sacrifice, than suffering.

Is it possible that your pain is an invitation to commune with God and to follow Jesus?

James describes it as the process of becoming complete…

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2–4 (ESV)

Paul describes the invitation like this…

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:18b–21 (ESV)

For those that follow, when the pain could become overwhelming, Jesus promises this to his followers…

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:15–17 (ESV)

Wherever you are in your suffering, pain, or grief, remember that you are not alone. It isn’t meant to overtake you. It may just be an invitation to walk through life in a more meaningful way to trust Jesus and experience the comfort that was promised to those that would follow him.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Psalm 23:4a (ESV)

Jesus is a powerful comforter. I hope you will join us this weekend as we explore the truth behind who Jesus really is.

Mark Love
Senior Pastor

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