God has generously granted you the privilege, not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for Christ’s sake.
Perhaps the reason for suffering is that God generously granted you that privilege? We’ve all heard the stories of people who say they wouldn’t change the bad thing that happened to them because they have found new purpose, they have changed the way they were living, they have been able to help others, etc., but as Pastor Joe told us on Sunday, it is hard to imagine that God causes us to suffer – that certainly does not seem like a God I want to put my faith in. People will say that God must cause suffering as it was after all, God’s plan for Jesus to be crucified for us.
I am a physical therapist and work with kids who are birth to 3 years old and their families in their homes. I have worked with some amazing kiddos and families and have become very close to some of them. One Mom that I worked with and have become very good friends with tells me she is grateful for our friendship, and it is a good thing to come from her suffering, but she would never tell me that she would rather have that friendship than her son who passed away almost 10 years ago. Did his death happen for a reason? He had Down Syndrome and a poorly formed heart. His parents decided to try a surgery that if successful would have given him the best chance for a long life. They prayed; they had others pray. The surgery caused a clotting problem and he died. Did his mom feel like she was granted a privilege from God? She felt it was a privilege to have her son, but not the pain and suffering of his death. Does she still believe in God and that her son is in heaven? Yes.
Today is our granddaughter’s 7th birthday. Her story can be put on the list of “things happen for a reason.” We praise God for her. In meeting Joe’s criteria, it did happen to us, it turned out better than we hoped (in some ways and it is still hard in others), and there were some people who were hurt, and Layla is feeling hurt at times, but she is definitely in the best place for her. Layla came to our family on August 4, 2017. Our daughter and son-in-law had been married for a little over a year. Layla was born to our son-in-law’s relative. She needed a home and a family to care for her. There were many, many things that happened between those two dates. Layla was adopted on March 1, 2019. Since her adoption, both of her birth parents have passed away. They have suffered in many different ways and right now Layla is struggling with that fact. I can’t imagine her not being a part of our lives, but the facts of how and why can be difficult for everyone.
These stories are part of my life. I am sure you have stories that can either prove or disprove this half-truth about God in our lives. God is active in our lives. God is there to help us through the good and bad. We can learn things from both, and we can use both to help our relationships with others and with God. I am thankful for the relationships with my families that I work with, as well as my own family. They can both be really hard sometimes – it is the nature of being a human – but I think it would be much harder without God.
by Janet Waryck
For Pondering & Prayer
What stories do you have that you can think back and say – “so THAT’S why that happened?” What stories do you have that you think back and say – “I have no idea why that may have happened but here is what I have been able to do since then (with the help of God and my family and friends)?”
Prayer: God who knows everything we are going through, help us to look to you in our suffering and to help others in theirs. Help us to choose our words carefully or to choose no words if that is better and to just be with those in need. Help us to grow in you with every experience – good or bad. Amen.