HOW CAN I SUFFER WELL?

What a crazy question? If one thing is true about this life, it’s that everyone suffers. It’s a universal experience; something we can expect to face at various turns in our life.

However, given that everyone suffers, maybe there’s a better question we can ask. Rather than, “Why do I suffer?” instead we could inquire, “When I suffer, how can I face it well?

None of us choose to suffer, but each of us gets to choose how we suffer. If we’re willing to shift our question in this way, God in Psalm 73 gives a brilliant answer.

A worship leader called Asaph penned this Psalm. The Psalm has three parts.

1. Problem: In verses 1-14, Asaph tells us about the problem that he faced.

But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.” Psalm 73:2-3

Asaph is resentful of those around him making ungodly life choices but facing no consequences for it. He describes their cruelty, greed and pride in depth and then remarks, “Look at these wicked people enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.

Maybe you feel the same sense of injustice in your own life; maybe you don’t relate at all. But one thing we can all take away from Asaph’s complaint is that God is big enough to handle our problems.

We don’t need to paper over them. Like Asaph, we can express our frustrations to God. If we need to whinge, far better to whinge to the One who has supernatural patience and can actually do something about it.

God wants us to draw near and tell Him about our struggles. He doesn’t require eloquent prayers—He just wants our hearts. This might be why the word ‘heart’ is mentioned six times in this Psalm.

At the height of his complaint, Asaph moans.

Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? Did I keep myself innocent for no reason? 14 I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.” Psalm 73:13-14

In other words, “God, I’m trying to do the right thing, so why am I still suffering so much?” Does that question sound familiar? Yes, Asaph is asking the wrong question. He’s in need of some perspective—and that’s exactly what he’s about to get.

2. Perspective

in verses 15-22, we hear about the perspective that he gained. A sudden shift takes place as Asaph realises,

If I had really spoken this way to others, I would have been a traitor to your people.Psalm 73:15

Up until this point, Asaph hadn’t been seeing straight. He’d been in a deep well of self-pity, and now he’s starting to ascend out of it. His eyes have been opened to something we’re so often blinded to: our feelings are not facts. In such moments of self-pity, we need the facts to reshape our feelings. This is exactly what happens to Asaph:

So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is!  Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.Psalm 73:16-17

We moderns don’t like this idea—the destiny of the wicked. Surely at the end of time, we reason, God will be kind to all. But is that really what we want?

How terrible it would be to catalogue all of the evil, committed through all of the centuries, by all of the tyrants and terrorists, tricksters and transgressors. It would leave no doubt that the world truly cries out for justice.

A God that lets every wrongdoer off the hook is not a God worthy of our affection: he is a moral monster. Deep down, we long to see vindication for those who have suffered.

Despite our modern objections, deep down we long for the God of Asaph—the God who will right every wrong, who steps in to defend the oppressed.

God will bring about ultimate justice. This is the perspective that Asaph gained. Finally, he could see how wrong he’d previously been:

Then I realised that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside.
 I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Psalm 73:21-22

3. Presence

Fortunately, this is not where Asaph’s journey ends. As he concludes his Psalm, in verses 23-28, Asaph testifies to the presence of God that he experienced.

What a relief that our problems don’t get the last say. And what a relief that even the right perspective isn’t God’s end-game when we suffer. The point of it all—the way to face suffering well—is to let it drive us into the very presence of God:

“Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God is the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.Psalm 73:23-26

Your suffering might not be understood by a single soul on earth. But nothing escapes God. He knows of your struggle. He wants to meet you in it. He offers you the comfort of His presence.

In this Psalm, Asaph lands on a truth that you and I are still catching up with: there’s a gap between the real and the ideal, between how life is and how it should be. But standing in that gap is a God who listens intently to our problems, resets our perspective, and welcomes us into His presence.

If He were just any god, that might be cold comfort. But this is the God who Himself faced incomprehensible suffering. He didn’t remain aloof—instead, he took on flesh, walked among us, and dealt with all the world’s injustice at Calvary. Because of this, every wrong will ultimately be made right.

This side of the cross, we have even more reason than Asaph to confidently declare:

But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.Psalm 23:28

Taken from article “But God is the strength of my heart” by Kurt Mahlberg

PERSECUTION IS COMING FOR THOSE WHO STAND ON THE WORD OF GOD

In 1 Peter 4:12-13, the apostle Peter says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though some strange thing happened to you. But rejoice insofar as you share in Christ’s sufferings, so that you may rejoice and be glad also in the revelation of His glory.”

The same Peter who wrote these words once rebuked Christ for declaring His intention to go to the cross (see Matthew 16:21-23). Peter once found suffering abhorrent, but now he tells us we should rejoice. Peter had grown in his understanding of the role of suffering in the Christian life. He had seen that the suffering of the cross was not the end—but only the way to the resurrection.

The persecution of the church is not new. In fact, history proves again and again that Christianity flourishes best under persecution. How then are we as Christians to respond to persecution?

On February 12, 2015, 21 Egyptian Christians were beheaded on the coast of the Mediterranean at the hands of ISIS fighters. Just before they beheaded each man, they offered him his life—if only he would deny Christ. But these brave men loved Jesus more than their own lives.

In this age of tolerance, we must love those who persecute us—but never surrender the truth. We must invite all people to come to the one who loves them and died for their sin. We must “implore [them] in Christ’s stead: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Above all, we must resist the temptation of being ashamed of the Gospel.

In the midst of suffering, God makes us some incredible promises:

  • “If you are reproached because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:14).
  • “In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
  • “Our light affliction, which lasts but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

There is an indescribable blessing that can only be received through suffering for Christ. When you trust in Him, even amid persecution or difficult circumstances, you will experience His presence with you in a unique and powerful way. And as you walk with the Lord in obedience, He promises that He will never leave you or forsake you—in the fiery furnace, the lion’s den, or even in your workplace.

This article originally appeared on Leading The Way.

Love Your Enemies – Remake the World

Love your enemies works, Jeremy Courtney and “Preemptive Love” shows us how to reach Muslims and how to show God’s love. He also gives us a new perspective on suffering and facing fear.

A must view as it is a message from God for our time. I love Jeremy’s “violence unmakes the world preemptive love remakes the world.

Note the leader of the Muslim Jihadists said, we cannot allow these people to continue to save our children as they will cause them to love their enemies. He got it right.