Thursday, January 19, 2006

Marcia Shares Her Personal Story of Suffering

God Brought Laughter for Mourning
Last Thursday morning Marcia Reavely spoke to the Women’s Bible study group as they began their study of Job. Marcia talked about the suffering she experienced with the loss of her two babies, Lindsey and Thomas. She shared her personal story along with the lessons she learned. Here is a summary of some of the things she shared.

Lessons about suffering:

1. Suffering comes.
We shouldn’t be surprised by it.
2. Suffering is no respecter of persons.
Many expect life to go smoothly if they are living right, but not all suffering is discipline for sin. We all face it and at least we will all go through the valley of the shadow of death. You can’t look at Jesus on the cross and think that you will be spared.
3. Suffering hurts.
Being a Christian doesn’t take the suffering out of life and it doesn’t take the pain out of suffering. Some cultures try not to show suffering. But Jesus cried. David made his bed swim with tears. God takes account of our tears, so it must be okay to feel sad.
4. Suffering can be prepared for.
First, know where you are going when your heart beats its last beat. It is like being prepared for unannounced guests. You can keep the house in order and have some extra food on hand, but you can only interact with them when they actually arrive. Prepare for suffering by being in the Word daily. Get rid of sin. Pray that God will preserve you when your day of suffering comes. And then trust him for the grace when you need it.
Elisabeth Elliot said, “Faithfulness today is the best preparation for the demands of tomorrow.”
5. Suffering doesn’t need to be feared.
Americans try to avoid discomfort and suffering at all costs. Some of us even go so far as to say we don’t want to get too close to God because we’re afraid of what he might do to us, like he did to Job. We have it backwards: staying away doesn’t spare us; it just makes it harder when it comes.
Suffering has benefits: purifies and humbles us, gives us endurance and maturity, we learn God’s Word and it glorifies God.
Psalm 112:7: “The righteous will not fear evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

Lessons about God:

1. God’s Word is indispensable.
It becomes more sweet and precious. It comes alive. It comforts us. It shows us God’s character and how He works. It gives us something to focus our thoughts on. It gives words to our prayers.
Psalm 110:71: “It is good that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.”
2. God’s grace IS sufficient.
No hurt is too deep for him to see us through. He is faithful; he loves us. We all can think of suffering that we think we can’t endure. On our own we’d probably give up. But God’s grace is there when we need it.
Corrie ten Boom was afraid of death as a child. She asked her father what they would do if something happened to one of them. He said, “When we go on a trip, when do I give you your train ticket?”
“Right when I get on the train,” she said. God does the same, he give you the grace right when you need it.
3. God is sovereign.
I knew this, but it didn’t mean much to me before I suffered some. Read through the Bible with two colored markers in hand. Mark all the suffering you see with one and all the verses on God’s sovereignty and power with the other. You’ll find there is much on both topics and they often overlap.
When I see all of God’s attributes, love, goodness, faithfulness, alongside his sovereignty, I know I can completely trust Him.
4. God hears my cry.
Even when He is silent and it feels like He must not hear, He hears in His time. Over and over He answered me when I needed reassurance. And He didn’t just hear my cry for help, He heard your cries for help on my behalf, and He answered. I hope you are encouraged today that He hears and He answers.
5. God satisfies.
There is rich fellowship with the Lord in suffering and it is worth the cost. I couldn’t have chosen this road for myself, but I am thankful for it.

Our sufferings are not over yet. There is more to come. I have children; I have aging parents; I have yet to face my own valley of death. You will have your own suffering. Our stories vary; our circumstances will be different. But one thing will never change, and that is God. He took me through these past ten difficult years. He has seen many of you through very painful suffering. He will see us through again. Draw close to Him every day and when the suffering comes, have hope. The sovereign God of the universe is with you.

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