“The Why? in Suffering”

cloud-of-missoryMy Sunday school class is currently studying, the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5-7.  As a matter of fact, my pastor-husband Earl, is doing a 4-part sermon series at Charlestons Presbyterian Church on the Sermon on the Mount, as well. As many know, the beginning of the sermon starts with what are referred to as the Beatitudes, which means “exalted happiness.”  Declared as blessed are the poor in spirit, those who  mourn, the gentle, those who hunger and thirst, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who have been persecuted – those that have been insulted and accused falsely.

But here are listed human frailties as well – people who are suffering in one form or another.  This crowd of people, who because of their gentleness or humbleness, those who were merciful toward others, those who tried to stay pure and make peace, could also be ridiculed and thought less valuable by many people.

Recently, a fellow employee at the company in which I work asked me why there is suffering.  She was watching the death of someone she cared about and could not fathom why he must suffer and why family and friends had to endure the suffering of someone they loved so deeply.  Upon his death, she told me she was asked to give the eulogy. She was wondering what she could possibly say. aged-woman

The question of suffering is not a new one.  It has been pondered by humans in every generation.  But I did offer her an answer that has allowed me to somewhat better accept the suffering of my fellow man and lay all my hope in God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  I tried to offer her a little of God’s comforting presence by allowing her to see God’s promises through His Word.  I told her that her faith in knowing Him would allow Him to help her become closer to Him and to understand suffering.

According to Genesis, we came into being because God created us.  “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).  In knowing this, I know that my soul (the living being within me, that makes me animate), living in this shell called a body, belongs to God.  And God has every right to have us returned to Him.

I’ve learned in my sorrows, and that without them, I would be less than human, not more.  Without human sorrows, we haven’t loved enough, felt compassion enough or been in a relationship with other God-breathed sisters and brothers.  Without sorrow, I wouldn’t be like Christ, Who wept at the death of Lazarus, (John 11: 1-36).  And Jesus promised Martha concerning Lazarus, “your brother shall rise again.” John 11:23.

In our seeking out God due to the suffering we face, we are calling out to the Great Comforter.  We are mourning the loss of someone we love.  We are showing to others our compassionate spirit and that God dwells within us.  We show that we have feelings and that we are not apathetic or stoic or spiritually dead on the inside.

Praise God that He uses our suffering to offer others the extreme privilege of showing compassion to others.  Without suffering, we would never know deepest love and compassion.  If no one ever suffered, no one would ever learn to help those who are less fortunate or in need.  Jesus was surrounded by those who suffered, and He showed them all God’s compassion.  We are to be like Him.

crosses-of-golgathaJesus suffered immensely on the cross even while His mother suffered at the foot of the cross.  But Mary knew Who Jesus was and knew His suffering was for the good of all mankind.  Suffering can bring Christ to His lost sheep – touching the very souls of those who are afflicted by turning them to Jesus Christ Who had compassion and love for all people, and Who died that they might all be saved and be granted eternal blessedness.

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Dying Is Not Just an Ending But a Beginning

Glimpses of Heaven by Trudy Harris, RN.  I have just finished reading this amazing journal of the experiences of a faith-filled Christian who has served in Hospice care.  Trudy Harris heard her call from God and took the gifts He offered her and went to work as His servant.

The final paragraph of the book reads, “Dying is a very natural part of living.  It is not an ending, but a beginning.”  She shows death to be a transition into the life God has promised to all of His children.  He wants us to eventually come home to be with Him after we finish the work that He has created us to do.  “He loves us-believe it.” 

Dying can be very scary, especially for those who do not know God our Creator, Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit, our Director.  But Trudy Harris witnessed of God to all those with whom she came in contact.  Many came to faith in God through her conversation, care and prayers.  Trudy Harris reflects Christ.  You can feel it in the stories.  You are in awe of her and pray to God to be more like her.

My mother Diana, is also an RN.  Long retired, but she still renews her license.  My mother worked in emergency rooms, operating rooms and on the floors of  hospitals and private doctors’ offices.  My mother is the first person that I call when I am given a diagnosis by my doctor.  She researches, questions and gets answers.  She comforts and loves those that come to her.  Every family member counts on her medical knowledge and insight.  I see Christ reflected in her.  I also hear hope.

My husband Earl, Senior Pastor at James Island Presbyterian Church, recently gave a sermon entitled, “The Roman Road.”  One section of the sermon hit me at the time that he stated it, and I was reminded of it again as I read this book.  He said, speaking of the church, “We are a hospital for sinners – not a Hospice for sinners.  As much as Hospice did for my personal family – and I love the work of Hospice – and not everyone who enters Hospice also dies in Hospice… But by simple analogy, a church is not a place for sinners who have no cure and are made to feel comfortable until they die.  The church is a hospital where patients are made better by the Great Physician and live eternally.”

The church is for healing and recovery.  A place where all sinners go to be made well.  We come to be cleansed by the Spirit of God through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ.  In the church, I also see hope.

Trudy’s book offers the reader a glimpse into the final days, hours and moments of those who are ready to leave this earth and transition into life eternal.  To read about those visions comforts the reader and gives knowledge to the believer that when God calls us home, He blesses us by His Holy presence.  When God calls us home to begin a new life with Him, it is not frightening.  It is more than we can possibly imagine.  And that is why I believe in God’s living hope.

“And how shall they preach unless they are sent?  Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!”  Romans 10:15

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