Posted By admin on May 19, 2012
For the last 5 years I have been pondering, studying, and personally living the very real paradoxes of life. It is so among my friends, coworkers, and society itself. The questions of suffering physically, spiritually, and emotionally in everyday life while the promises of God loom like a mountain in front of me.
Everywhere I turn articles about this subject appear in magazines, blog-posts, devotionals, and the daily news. Books are being written about these issues. And all the while I am surrounded by, and a part of, real suffering in this life here and now. These experiences have caused many to begin to slide in a way never before contemplated. Their minds and souls inundated with nagging questions. Where is God? Where is my faith? How does the church fit in all of this? Have I been sold a bill of goods? Should I throw in the towel? Is there a reason to press on?
Paul the Apostle wrote, “We don’t want you to be uninformed, brethren, about the afflictions and oppressing distress which befell us…how we were so utterly and unbearably weighed down and crushed that we despaired even of life. Indeed, we felt within ourselves that we have received the sentence of death…” 2 Cor. 1:8-9 The Amplified Bible
He went on to say that the reason was so that he wouldn’t trust in or depend on himself instead of on God who raises the dead! He then went on to describe his current state of being afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…constantly being delivered over to death…in fact, death was at work in him!
Then He proclaims the promise of God, that as He rose Jesus from the dead, He will raise us also…and because of this Paul was not losing hope!
As I sit around with friends, some of us unemployed today, we are hoping to get work, but are constantly assaulted with the reality of being older in a worker’s nightmare of competition for the very few real jobs. All the while, the newspapers tell us of recovery. I have friends and family who suffer from bipolar disorder and the daily task of staying on track is a trial in itself. They hope to feel normal, to make sense of what is happening. Others escape from their troubles in any number of ways, hoping to avoid the tough decisions that faith, in the real world, brings up.
I don’t know your circumstances, you fill in the blanks. I am in no way saying that each one’s difficulty can be measured or that one difficulty is less than another’s. What I am saying is that everyone experiences difficulties. They are real. They are present. And they are often very long.
A.B. Simpson wrote many years ago, “That the pressure of hard places makes us value life. Every time our life is given back to us from such a trial, it is like a new beginning, and we learn better how much it is worth, and make more of it for God and man. The pressure helps us understand the trial of others, and fits us to help and sympathize with them.”
“There is a shallow, superficial nature, that gets hold of a theory or promise lightly, and talks very glibly about the distrust of those who shrink from every trial; but the man or woman who has suffered much never does this, but is very tender and gentle, and knows what suffering really means. This is what Paul meant when he said, “Death works in you.”
“Trials and hard places are needed to press us forward, even as the furnace fires in the hold of that mighty ship give force that moves the piston, drives the engine, and propels that great vessel across the sea in the face of the winds and waves.”
Pressing forward, overcoming, enduring…how? I stop and look up to that mountain that is looming before me. The mountain of the promises of God, where my help comes from. I look as far up as I am able and trust that tomorrow I will be able to look up even further. And I look back and see how many times God has delivered me. How many times He has been faithful. How many times the seasons changed. And how many times I had found that each season had it’s own reward. It is there, in the midst of my trials and suffering, that I find that I am surrounded by God, His faithfulness behind and His promises ahead. Hoping in Him enables me to stand one more day.
Paul Sisemore III