Is there a right way, or wrong way to suffer? Or, maybe a better question is… Is there a healthy way to suffer and an unhealthy way to suffer? It would seem to me that the answer to that question could be followed up with another question… what fruit has your suffering produced? All of us have tasted amazing, pallet changing fruit. The kind of fruit that leaves an impression and makes you want to find more of the same. We have all likewise tasted bad fruit, or maybe fruit that is not yet ripe. It literally leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Suffering has the same power in our lives. Suffering can produce incredible fruit if done the right way and it can also produce a horrific aftertaste if experienced the wrong, or unhealthy way.
SUFFERING THE WRONG WAY
- Allowing fear to overtake your mind, emotions and behaviors. When our suffering causes us to become obsessed with the feelings of fear to the point that fear is now running our lives instead of us, we have a problem. We have actually compounded problems. Where your mind and emotions go, your behaviors will follow.
- Fighting or resisting it. Suffering can be a powerful tool for personal transformation, or, if resisted it can be source of never ending pain.
- Denying it in you or others… “Who’s suffering? Not me! What suffering?”
SUFFERING THE RIGHT WAY
- Accepting Reality. We must develop an ability to accept the reality of the pain and the emotions of involved with it. Pain and suffering is a part of life we must accept and learn to use as a catalyst of spiritual and emotional growth.
- Not comparing our sufferings with others. We humans enjoy the comparison game, even when it comes to suffering and pain. Crazy I know, but we do it so naturally. We judge other people’s pain as less painful or hard as ours. Instead of helping others find the hope and comfort we have found in Jesus we pity people instead.
- Finding faith and perspective – 1 Peter 4:12-13 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” All of life and especially suffering is about perspective, trust building and faith stretching.
- Choosing to fight with a different battle strategy. Surrendering to the suffering is different than surrendering to the person or situation that caused the suffering. We must be willing to lay down our lives in order to gain the victory and freedom we want and deserve. Jesus was the greatest example of this strategy, but not the only one.
Martin Luther King JR
One life that exemplified suffering well and the right way was Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for the rights of others as well as for himself. His suffering not only was shown in the way he had been treated as a black man in America but even more so as a civil rights advocated. Through his faith and perspective of God, he was able to fight for himself, others and the truth. His strategy was not an obvious one but powerfully transformative.
“We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience. We have sometimes given our white brothers the feeling that we liked the way we were being treated. But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice.”Martin Luther King Jr
Ultimately, in 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. would lose his life to James Earl Ray. The ultimate sacrifice of freedom… Suffering for doing what is right!
What have you been willing to sacrifice or suffer for the sake of others or a greater cause?
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV)
Suffering the wrong way can compound your pain and suffering. Suffering well and for a greater cause can change the world. It is not only possible, but it is proven that when you are able to turn pain into passion, your life and the lives of others will be forever changed for the greater good. What fruit are you bearing in your season of suffering and pain?
For years I thought that happiness was based on avoiding pain and the absence of problems. I was so wrong! I now know the truth that through embracing pain we have the greatest opportunity to change ourselves and the world around us.Tweet