Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Side Effects of Suffering-Asking the Right Questions by Martin Wiles

Series: The Side Effects of Suffering

We three brothers crouched snugly in a booth at a local restaurant rehashing old memories and considering life’s complexities and our current situations. We were doing what we hadn’t done in years-spending alone time together in the same place at the same time. 

Though we were all younger than middle age, our list of sufferings seemed quite lengthy. Parkinson’s. Diabetic neuropathy. Heart malfunctions. Disability. Financial struggles. Several divorces. Rebellious daughters and angry sons. And we could identify with rebellious children. We had shared in a few uprisings ourselves. Growing up as preacher’s kids wasn’t easy. Pious parishioners and unrealistic expectations often pummeled us into areas better left alone-and the consequences were normally unpleasant. But we had mended our ways, so why the frequent anguish?

The psalmist clashed with the age old question of suffering but then comforted himself. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes (Psalm 37:7 NLT).

Why is the typical question when suffering has us in its sights or when things aren’t going our way. And while the why may be important, the what is usually more essential. What is my relationship with God? Unpleasant circumstances can be God’s way of illustrating our need for a faith experience with him. What are my priorities? I’ve had a relationship with Jesus Christ since I was nine, but there have been periods when he wasn’t first...or even close. Jumbled priorities can creep up unexpectedly and be challenging to untangle. What is my plan for spiritual growth? God can stretch our faith with distasteful situations, and these often drive us to prayer, his Word, and wise counsel-all good growth sources. Let God help you redeem your suffering by asking the right questions.

Prayer: God of all comfort, we acknowledge our distaste for suffering but realize Your power to redeem it for Your glory and our benefit. In our times of suffering, drive us to ask You the proper questions, the answers to which will firm our faith.