Lisa and I have never met in person.
One day I wrote a blog post. I was so terrified that I had "put myself out there" (like, i only have 5 followers, so you can see what a brave gal i am. ;)...) that I resolved to delete the post as. soon. as. I. got. home.
And when I got into Blogger to delete it, there was this comment from this person named Lisa. So full of empathy and encouragement. So. The post did not get deleted. And I went over to her blog (Hephzibah at that time, Christians Under Construction now) and so began a long an mutually beneficial friendship.
Last winter when I was contemplating suffering, I was eager to find out what Lisa would say. I know she has had some heavy burdens. . .too heavy to be borne. . .and that she crumpled under the pressure and heat. I have had the privilege of watching from halfway around the world as she and her husband Leo have emerged from the ashes of destroyed hopes and dreams, more vibrant and free and alive than ever before.
So I asked what words she associated with "suffering", what she thought was the cause, and where she turns to overcome. She responded:
Oh WOW! Those questions seem like they should be simple, but... I'll have to think that out a bit.Happy to do that though.I guess words I would initially associate with suffering would be: pain, affliction, sadness, distress, anxiety, sickness, exhausting, grief/sorrow, adversity, torment but also; , testing, refining(fire), endurance, patience, discipline, dependance, Comfort, Grace, SalvationWhat causes it? well that's a bit more complicated isn't it...I think it's all manner of things as I have said many times before... I always make sure I have not brought it on myself first... or that it is not a disciplining or a 'giving over to my sins' is God trying to get my attention to repent for something I have been leaving out and it's damaging my life with Him.
These are true reasons we can suffer! As uncomfortable as I think we often are with the thought of them!The other reasons are; suffering for Jesus... being persecuted for speaking/standing for His Truth. Preaching Jesus in anti-Jesus religious areas like Middle east for example... or just the simple your work colleagues hate you 'cos they know you're a 'God' person and they are convicted in their sin by you and your life and they act out in hate!Refining fire and pruning... God Himself allowing or orchestrating a period of suffering for a purpose -through which (if we listen) He will teach us how to respond and make this time work for us spiritually and relationally with Him...Then I guess the others we often don't focus on as Christians are - for one, living in a fallen world where we are degenerating... the sins are piled high to heaven and the creation is crying out...also, if we live a life given to sin we may have repercussions or consequences. I.E suffering a disease which was contracted by sleeping around... or liver disease from abusing alcohol... they are not 'put on' us!something I read earlier that made me think - Leo and I have said it of our experiences BUT the reality of it often still does not seem real at times:2 cor 1:3-7 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort