Healing from Things We Suffer

Healing from Things We Suffer

Do you have times when you are plagued with thoughts about all your hurts and failures? Do you wonder, “What did I do as a child to cause my abuse? What did I do to cause my divorce? What did I do to cause my son, my daughter to become a prodigal? Why do I sin and cause myself pain and suffering?” These questions are common to mankind. They must be answered by the Word of God; otherwise, the lies of the devil will dominate our behavior.

There are some people who refuse to believe in God because of the suffering in life, either their own or a general view of watching people starve in Africa, or be shot in the inner city or whatever. The thought goes, “If God exists and He is good, then how can there be suffering? Would an Almighty God allow people to suffer? I think not; therefore, either God is not good, or He is not powerful, or He does not exist.”

God did not create pain and suffering in the beginning. Pain and suffering were the consequence of disobeying God by eating from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. After Adam and Eve sinned, they felt guilty and hid from God. God recognized they now had the knowledge of evil. So, God told Adam and Eve that life would now be hard and painful until they died. With the knowledge of good and evil, people became their own god, causing others to suffer.

Why didn’t God prevent this? Why did He allow Satan to tempt Adam and Eve? Because God is love; He made us in His image; and He desires us to love Him. If we aren’t free to choose, then we aren’t free to love God or anyone else. God does not want mindless beasts to love Him. God desires real love, a love that only those with a free will can ever experience or give. God created us to love Him, but real love for God and love for others is both a choice and a commitment to deny our selfish desires.

The flip side is that freedom gives us the choice to hurt others and to hurt ourselves. It allows the awful choices people make, to kill others, to torture others, to abuse the freedom we were given by God. Because of our sin and the sin of others, suffering has been the result since the Fall of Man. Therefore, we suffer because of our own choices and the choices of others.

Obviously, some people choose to love themselves, rather than love God. But God gave us that option. He gave us a free will. Therefore, people all over the world are free to do evil things.

Romans 3:10-12 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

This is hard to accept because we fundamentally want to believe people are good. But they aren’t. We aren’t. We aren’t fundamentally good people. We are fundamentally sinful people, in whom there is some broken image of the Almighty. Remember, we were created in the image of God. Jesus redeemed us and sent the Holy Spirit to restore God’s image in us again.

So much, of what we see in society that is wrong, is simply free will run amuck. By far, most suffering comes from the broken family. Children are wounded by their parents’ divorce. Some are abandoned by a mother or father who can’t care for them adequately. Some don’t know who their father is. Some are abused by a family member. They carry their wounds into adulthood, and often the pattern is repeated. Their spouse divorces them, or abuses them, and they endure painful rejection all over again. To avoid suffering a broken marriage or home, some just live together, but there is no commitment to stay together and overcome problems. So again, they are abused and rejected, even outside of marriage. If children are involved, the suffering cycle is repeated in their lives. Some will turn to crime to relieve their suffering.

In spite of sin and suffering, there is hope in the LORD! Suffering does not prevent God from accomplishing His purpose. In fact, He uses it. I am not saying God creates suffering. God doesn’t need to. Suffering is a consequence of mankind’s rebellion against God.

The good news is He uses the suffering that exists to bring us closer to Him, and to make us more useful for His kingdom on earth. And while that may be hard to hear, it is good news that God takes the suffering that we undergo to make us better people, more Christ-like, more able to love others who are suffering, and more equipped to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those who suffer, so that they, too, can find God’s peace and joy.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

Jesus doesn’t promise anyone a pain-free life, but He does promise that through faith in Him, we can be restored to an abundant life and peace in this world of suffering.

So why are we still plagued with painful thoughts from the past? Mostly, we have enemies of our soul who lie to us and keep us in the darkness and in bondage.

One of those enemies is bitterness. It makes us suffer from the past by causing us to repress our hurt and withhold forgiveness. This makes us bitter. Rather than face our pain, we press on, burying our pain in some activity.

Some try to escape suffering with drugs or alcohol. But our bitterness and inner pain never leave us until we bring it into the Light of Jesus Christ and allow Him to heal and deliver us from bitterness through forgiveness. Un-forgiveness holds us in bondage, not the one who hurt us.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Another enemy is anxiety. If you’ve had a difficult family history, anxiety may be a daily reality for you. This may be a free-floating anxiety, unattached to any present reality. You don’t know why you’re anxious, but you find yourself worrying over things you think might happen. Suddenly, you’re blowing things out of proportion that have yet to exist. As a result, you may experience anxiety attacks from all the stress in your soul.

People from difficult backgrounds are especially vulnerable to this enemy. Their deep wounds can cause them to project their past onto their future. It’s an unconscious coping mechanism that says, “If I think it will happen, then I won’t be surprised by it and the resulting pain.”

The Bible speaks one command more than any other: “Fear not.” Why would God say this more than “Don’t sin” or “Love one another”? It could be because God knows we’ll have fearful events in our lives, and those trials can make us shrink away from Him. Therefore, when you have anxious fear, run to God, confess it, and He will give you His peace.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.

Another enemy is a fear of rejection. There is no worse blow to our desire to love and be loved than the experience of rejection. People may desire many good things—relationships, friendships, a spouse, a calling—but rather than face possible rejection again, they shut down the desire and avoid any commitments.

In reality, when they choose to shut out pain, they also shut out the possibility of receiving love to heal that pain. They think God can’t love them and they avoid Him. Some believe they are worthless and deserve rejection. These are lies from the enemy.

Psalm 27:10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.

Jesus gave us the commission to love rejected people and share the good news that their acceptance lies in God’s love and salvation through faith in Jesus.

When we believe in Jesus and confess and repent of our sin, God accepts us, forgives us, and gives us a new life through the rebirth and filling of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Another enemy is isolation. Our deep wounds can cause us to protect ourselves by avoiding a church community. When we face trials, temptations, and suffering, the enemy condemns us with shame, causing us to withdraw from any possible help—be it from God or from fellow Christians. We must resist this enemy and open ourselves to the love God and the love He has provided in a church community. The Church is where we can be healed and restored.

James 5:13-16 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Another enemy is self-hatred. Almost always, the person blames himself for his pain and suffering. A man might say, “My father used to slap me around. I must have provoked him to do that.” A woman might say, “My husband left me. I must have been a bad wife.”

This is different from a godly sorrow that says, “I’m wrong.” This sorrow says, “I’m not worthy of love.” So, they try to reinvent themselves, constructing a different personality that others will find acceptable. Usually, they find acceptance with a group of people who have also been wounded. Bars, night clubs, and gangs are places where they find acceptance if they dress and act like the crowd. As a result, they also end up doing things they detest. This reinforces their self-hatred and belief that they so bad that God (if He exists) could not possibly love them.

It is a lie from Satan.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

1 John 4:9-10 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

These verses describe God’s love for you. If you have faith in Jesus Christ, stop saying, “I’m a failure, a loser!” God’s love says to us, “You’re not a failure. You are growing. You’re being stretched. I am transforming you into the image of my Son.”

No one, who loves God, needs external validation from other people, because they already have validation from God who lives within them. They don’t need to construct a false self because their true self is celebrated by their Creator and Savior.

There may be enemies to test you, but your Father has put His power, the Holy Spirit, in you to conquer them all. Rebuke those enemies in Jesus’ Name and don’t let them plague you with painful thoughts from the past any more. Stay in the Truth of God’s Word, stay in church, stay filled with the Spirit, and find the love and acceptance of Jesus filling you day after day.

Then, in the midst of suffering, you will be testimony that God is still in control. The peaceful love of God in your life goes a long way to convincing others that there is something to this relationship you have with God through His Son, Jesus. People will take note of your reaction to suffering; how you persevere and act like Jesus instead of the rest of the world.

By the way you overcome suffering, people will see that Christianity is about knowing Jesus, and not about following rules to prevent suffering.

I must confess it doesn’t seem fair that God allows me to suffer because of someone else’s sin. Yet when I turn to the Cross, I see Jesus suffering as a consequence of my sin. He had no sin. He suffered from my sin and your sin.

Every terrible feeling that you have had and every horrible day you’ve been through, God has felt that exact thing. When Jesus took on the sin of the world, hanging on that cross, He took everything that came along with sin. Every bit of evil and suffering in the world is ultimately the result of sin, and so when He took the penalty for all sin, Jesus experienced all of the world’s hurt and suffering.

It is by the pain Jesus suffered that God dealt with our sin once and for all. It is by the blood of the Lamb of God that we are healed. It is because of Jesus’s pain that our suffering in this life will at some point come to an end, and we will be ushered into a blessed eternity, free from pain and suffering, free from humiliation and shame.

If there were no possibility for sin, we wouldn’t truly love God and we wouldn’t truly love each other. We would get along because we didn’t have a choice. There would be no pain and suffering, but there would also be no love. Because of sin, we realize more and more that we need God, who loves us when we feel like no one loves us. We need God, who can give our lives purpose when we think that we have no purpose. We need God, who can sympathize with our suffering and our pain.

Jesus loves you so much that He stepped out of Heaven and took the penalty for each and every one of us. When we suffer, He suffers with us and we suffer with Him.

Philippians 3:8-11 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

That is how suffering brings us closer to God! We share it with Him!

Morally, spiritually, socially, it seems every place we turn, the world is getting worse. Sin abounds and suffering increases, just as God said it would. Therefore, the world needs to see the reality of Jesus Christ living in people who call themselves believers in Jesus. We need to repent of our selfish living and ask the Father to fill us with the Holy Spirit so we can have the character of Christ (the fruit of the Spirit) in the midst of suffering, and so that the whole body of Christ will shine as light in the darkness and evil of this world. Then some will be drawn to the Light of Jesus and be saved from an eternity of suffering.

Maybe you are one of those suffering that has seen their acceptance and salvation in Jesus Christ. If you believe He is the Son of God who atoned for your sin on the cross, publicly confess your faith. Then repent of your sin and make Jesus your Lord and Master by obeying Him instead of your fleshly desires. His first command after repentance is to be baptized. In this act of obedience, your sins are forgiven and you are born again of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will lead you and guide you in following Jesus, and gradually transform you into His image.