Given today’s daily events, we can often feel as if we are walking through a field of land mines. These feelings may stir up chronic depression or fear.
On top of these unwanted annoyances, a crisis may be swirling around us that causes great physical and emotional pain. For example, ill-treatment, shame, sickness, unstable finances, a recent loss of a loved one or friend, a long-term mental condition like PTSD, or a hereditary mental disorder.
Over a prolonged period, any one of these lethal gremlins may lead to depression, drugs, or even suicide. Depending upon the severity, they might be expressed as suffering. There are multiple definitions of suffering, but among the most easily recognizable descriptions are: sad, tormented, miserable, and in pain.
If you experience suffering, your major focus becomes ridding yourself of the pain associated with its arrival. Will addictive drugs, alcohol, psychologist prescribed drugs or sex be the answer? It’s unlikely. They only function in the way a room freshener would temporarily cover an odor that will eventually drift to the surface.
Throughout biblical history, there have been numerous stories of suffering. People endured hatred, bigotry, persecution, crucifixion, jealousy, poverty, financial ruin, hunger, lies, imprisonment, and incurable illness. However, the good news was the outcome of victory within each account.
No one wants to experience chronic pain of any kind. When we experience emotional pain, depression is always waiting in the wings to make its entrance into our souls. It is a dark and unkind enemy to faith. For this reason, the principle of suffering is one of the most difficult to accept as part of our life journey.
Choosing a different view of suffering will equip us with a powerful weapon to expel depression. When negative circumstances arise, accept them as God’s way of changing our inward character, thinking, attitude, and our hearts.
By now, some of you are cynically thinking that’s just “religious mush.” I get that--I really do! Just remember that God loves us unconditionally. He wants us to have an “abundant life.” (John 10:10) There are no rewards for Him in allowing us to suffer needlessly. He does not need us to supply anything to Him, but He does desire that we recognize Him as our source for every need.
If you are a parent, you want to train and discipline your children. Would you buy them ice cream and chocolate bars every time they were unruly? No! You want to support them in learning the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. They must be able to experience an uncomfortable consequence from you for their behavior. They will gain wisdom from your chastening. God’s discipline always protects and restores.
God has provided a one-of-a-kind antidote against depression. Suffering allows God to develop character, creativity, wisdom, patience, and faith within us.
While waiting on Him to eliminate the negative circumstance or situation, we are not Humpty Dumpty wall sitters. Instead, we focus on noteworthy and admiral things that cause a change in our thoughts and companions. Avoid ceaseless negative thinking that becomes permanent interference with God’s purpose and plans for us. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Let the grace and love of God sustain you in all things. Thank Him for shaping and molding you; thank Him for strengthening and disciplining you and, most of all, rejoice in the magnificent creation you will become!
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