How would you communicate the message of James 5:13–16 to people enduring chronic pain or illness? How would you address their deep questions about God’s character? How would you emphasize the importance of prayer and confession in the midst of suffering?
In the process of living and dying in a sin-cursed world we experience distress, agony, and misery due to pain, disease, loss, and damage. We call it suffering. Everyone experiences it sooner or later. It is part of the human condition. Some of it we bring on ourselves. Some of us suffer through no fault of our own.
Besides being difficult physically, emotionally, and spiritually, the fact that suffering often appears to have no rhyme or reason, and appears meaningless adds a measure of psychological suffering. Suffering is easier to endure if we can attach some meaning or purpose to it.
While we can't often control the sources of our suffering, we can control our response to it. God gives us direction as to how to respond so as to make it meaningful. We hope these resources help you turn suffering into a situation to praise God for His strength amid your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9b).
If I’ve described your situation, I have great news. I’m so glad that I memorized it years ago and call it to mind often. Here it is: We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.
Like potatoes in a pressure cooker, we 21st-century creatures understand the meaning of stress. A week doesn’t pass without a few skirmishes with those “extrinsic agents” that beat upon our fragile frames.
None of us knows if or when we may one day have to sift through the wreckage that was once our life’s treasures.
Right about now, I’m shaking my head. How could anyone handle such a series of grief-laden ordeals so calmly? Think of the aftermath: bankruptcy, pain, 10 fresh graves...the loneliness of those empty rooms.
If most people are broken, needing God’s help and healing, why do we tend to value feeling good when most of the time we don't? Why do we act like we’re fine even when we’re not?
The fact is we are broken people living with other broken people in a broken world. The consequence of our brokenness is trials and suffering. However, the good news is this is not the final word.
When facing tragedy or enduring long months of drought, it’s easy to shut down and go through the motions until you don’t feel so vulnerable.
I plead with you to stop reading, close your eyes for 60 seconds, and identify with that good man who was crushed beneath the weight of adversity.