I have been wanting to write a blog for some time now, about 3 months to be exact. I have a specific topic I wanted to share about and am ready to share with you after a lot of prayer and reflection with the Lord about my first 10 months in Nicaragua and what the Lord has been teaching me.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.'” Romans 8:35-36
What is suffering?
What does suffering look like?
One of the first questions I asked in one of my first one-on-one intentional conversations with one of my Nicaraguan friends, was “If you could ask God anything, what would it be?”
She replied: “Why is there so much suffering?”
That conversation has not left me, and here I am sitting at 10 months, in a hard season where my heart just feels so heavy that it breaks over and over.
(This is what God’s heart must feel like.)
This word “suffering” I carry everyday as I do life and minister in Nicaragua.
“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.” Philippians 1:29
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
The Lord is teaching me new perspectives on suffering and different ways to suffer.
According to the dictionary on Google, suffering is “the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship.”
Suffering isn’t just the obvious.
it’s not pictures of starving children on TV.
or devestated towns from natural diseasters.
or the tragic circumstances that happen.
Those are all sufferings.
But what about,
- the chronically ill single mom trying to provide for her kids and herself,
- the pre-teen who has to eat different from her siblings because of a health condition
- the girl who no longer can walk and can’t go to school
- the boy who is addicted to glue
- the man who is too stubborn to get clean for his family and fully commit to the Lord and lead his family like a husband should
- the man who is leading a ministry but his own kids won’t follow
- the woman who knows she needs to, but doesn’t reconcile relationships with her family and neighbors
- the sick who have been abandoned and have to rely on outside family and friends for love and support
- the single who has been waiting for a godly spouse
- the married woman (or man) desperately trying to make things work in their marriage
…the list goes on. Suffering comes in all shapes and sizes.
“Suffering should not drive us away from God, but help us to identify with Him further and allow His love to react and heal us.”
How we deal with our suffering is a reflection of our response to suffering.
Very commonly answered here in Nicaragua to “What is your favorite book of the Bible?” is Job.
I have read Job before and didn’t really understand why that book was their favorite. So, to gain another perspective of suffering, I read Job again and studied it. It’s not an easy book to read. Job was a man with everything and then had everything stripped away very quickly. His friends accused him of just about everything on why he was suffering. But in the end, Job showed us that the most important thing to remember when going through a season of suffering is to remember the faithfulness of God and the loyalty to Him and He has with us. He is so faithful and loyal. He loves us so much. So much to allow seasons of suffering to humble ourselves and see that we are so much smaller than we think we are and that we need a greater, more powerful being (God) the creator of everything.
“…then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21
“As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” James 5:11
We can respond to our sufferings by remembering what God has already spoken over us before. He is the same today, yesterday, tomorrow and forever. Which means His words never change.
We stand on that Truth He spoke over us, we hold onto the perseverance, hope and our character as a child of the Most High God and King.