Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Mystery Behind Suffering

The last few months I have been spending time pondering and praying about the subject of suffering. I have been chronically ill since 1984, finally being correctly diagnosed with Stage 3 Lyme Disease in 2007. Joel joined me with his own fight against Lyme and its buddies (co-infections) over a year ago, and this past March I was diagnosed with uterine cancer and had surgery to remove it all. During this recovery time, I began to question the journey we are on. There are several schools of thought on the subject of illness, suffering and getting well, and when you are sick for a long time, people seem to be more verbal about sharing their opinions on these subjects with you.

My need to learn more intensifed when I joined a conference-call prayer group, where the leader believes strongly that God wants all of us well and healthy. She states that Christ's death on the cross was in part so that we do not need to suffer. He already suffered for us. I felt challenged by these beliefs and my pondering turned into a time of struggling and growing.

I have read a couple of books by well known authors on the subject of healing~ there are many on this topic! There is more than one TV evangelist who tells us if we would just "believe" we would get well. God's favor is there for the asking, and our faith or that of a faith healer will heal us. One person I am close to has asked me, "Do you really want to get well? Is there something emotional inside of you that is keeping you from getting well? Some hidden benefits?" In Max Lucado's book, "It's Not About Us" he states that a season of suffering can be a part of God's calling for us ~ He says, "Your faith in the face of suffering cranks up the volume on God's song." Yet another school of thought is that we live in a fallen world and we are going to have suffering because of sin.

I have looked at all the above and more, reflecting on my own beliefs while reading about those of others. What I came to realize is that there is scripture to back them all! There is great mystery in all of this for me....we have seen a close friend on death's door with terminal cancer who was miraculously healed and is living a full life years later. We have seen others who believed with their whole heart that God would heal them here on earth...and He did not. I have also observed others who have not asked for healing but did use their suffering to glorify God, and we all understand that a sinful world brings suffering to many. There are as many answers as there are questions on the enigma of suffering.

I believe there are mysteries we will never fully understand, and one of them is the mystery behind suffering. Researching this subject left me open to God's desires for our lives in all areas, including healing. I have come before God asking for healing in accordance with His will, hopeful for full health here on earth, while also asking God to use our season of suffering to His glory. I know that God answers our prayer requests with what He sees as best for us, and that He loves us....deeply and unconditionally. In His omnipotence there is mystery and will be until God welcomes us into Heaven. And I am okay with that. I don't have all the answers on the suffering people experience, but I do know I can trust my Lord in every season of my life.

Stop over and visit Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or link up with your own.


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful and thought-provoking post Renee. I have spent much of my life caring for loved ones who have suffered and like you I have many questions. I am thankful that the Lord is with us every step of the way. Hoping that you will have a nice weekend.

Shirley said...

I agree with you, there are mysteries that we will never figure out. I often wonder why some are healed and some are not, but God is God, and one day we will know and see the reason why things happen. Thank you for sharing your heart.
Have a blessed week!

Karen said...

Yes, He is faithful in every season. God bless you Renee.

Whidbey Woman said...

What a thought-provoking and heart felt post. We may never know why
there is so much suffering in the world, and why certain trials come into our own lives. But we do know that God is with us and will never forsake us. Cling to His promises, Renee.

Cindy Adkins said...

Sometimes I wonder if these things happen and it is precisely how someone's spirituality grows even deeper...and I agree with the speaker--I don't think that God wants people to suffer...I think He wants us to be joyful...God bless you. Your really touch so many hearts.

Ginger~~Enchanting Cottage said...

Renee this is such a powerful post and subject. This is one of the answers I'm so looking forward to when the Lord comes for us. I will continue to pray for you my friend.
God Bless,

NanaNor's said...

Hi there, Such a deep and powerful post. You have shared much wisdom here. I've struggled too with the issue of healing and why some receive and some don't but like you, regardless of what my Lord chooses for my life, may He be glorified. We live in a fallen world which has consequences but we are told we are not of the world. Only when we are in glory will we truly see His plan unfolded and how He used different circumstances in our lives.
Hugs and blessings to you today.


My dear sister, it seems you are going through the same struggle Job went through. The reason for your suffering always being the focus of finding an answer. Jesus Himself said, "In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." We live in a cursed world. We are subject to all the tribulation this world brings, including chronic health conditions. I am always aware that suffering is a part of being human. We will never know the suffering Christ experienced for our salvation. I leave you with these words: If the cup the Lord has given you is sweet, drink it with humbleness and thanksgiving. If the cup He gives you is bitter, drink it in sweet communion with Him. God bless you, Dr. Bobbi

Charlotte said...

This is a subject that has been debated many times. I think those who say if we have enough faith we will be healed do a real disservice to people. The truth is we don't know why some are healed and some are not. The best book I've ever read on this subject is Randy Alcorn's book "If God Is Good". I can't say that I understand it completely, but I understand it a whole lot better after reading this book.
Blessings and prayers are with you.

Clif said...

Thank you for sharing from your heart and your life experiences. What you have posted here today will bless many.

Virginia said...

The mystery of suffering….only God knows why.But I know one thing for sure, that on those moments His presence is there with us.
Much Blessings,

sarah said...

there were so many times when I wandered around in the dark...alone...scared..thinking He doesn't care. But I found out...He
s our corner....running with us...always. I hated that tough stuff I went I realize..He's used it to make me strong and give others hope. Renee..praying for you...stay strong okay...He's got you right in the palm of His hands...

Annesphamily said...

Renee you write beautifully and this thought provoking post is giving me a lot to think about. Thank you for sharing and please know you are in my daily prayers. Anne

Vintagesouthernlife said...

What a thought provoking post and sweet testimony.It is good to know that that He is always with us even when we do not have all of the answers.
Have a blessed day! Annette

Karen said...

Renee, I loved reading your acceptance and desires. No doubt to rest in HIM through the suffering is the only rest & peace to find. It is so encouraging to find others who are walking & seeking the Lord in everything.
Hope your weekend is restful and you can sense the Lord's closeness.

Cathy said...

Thanks for sharing those thoughts, Dear. I have some physical problems too, like incurable asthma, but I don't give up hope in God. I believe He is able to heal.

Isa 53:5 -
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

I have also read scripture verses about suffering with Christ. I think I have one in my emails. If I find it I will come back and post it. God is in control,and we just have to trust Him. Your thoughts were very good. Praying for you ~ Hugs ~

Veronica Lee said...

This is such an impactive post. Thanks for sharing.

Have a blessed Sunday!

Cathy said...

Here is one verse that I found, Renee. I believe there are others.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my
strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will
I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may
rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:9, King James Version

Crystal Mary said...

Hello Rene, Yes suffering is a mystery. Myself, I feel the closer we are to God, the more we suffer...its hard to rejoice at that time and yet thats what we need to do. The devil only goes after those he doesn't have. So keep shining your light...I also suffer..and yet those who read my Blog and hear me always laughing, think I haven't a care in the world. I suffer physical pain...(drink from 6-8 glasses of water per day and don't lower your take magnesium also) we need to keep our CELLS...our life givers, helps..
God bless you so much. Love Crystal xxx

Joan said...

As others have said, this is a very thought provoking post. There are some things we won't understand until we reach Heaven and once we are there, these things really won't matter because we will be worshipping the King.

I don't understand why some are healed and some are not. I do not agree with those who say "if only you have enough faith, you will be healed."

The book of John speaks of a time when Jesus healed the man who had been lame for thirty-eight years. He, along with countless others, sat by the pool near the sheep gate, known for its healing waters. When Jesus approached him, He asked, "Do you want to get well?"

The man did not exhibit an extraordinary amount of faith. In fact, his response, "there is no one to put me in the water" was more of a defeated nature. We know the story, Jesus healed him.
But the Bible doesn't tell us that everyone present that day were healed.

As Dr. Bobbie said, Jesus told us that we would have tribulation in this world, but we can take refuge and comfort in Him, because He has overcome the world.

Blessings to you, dear sister.

Ruth said...

what a beautiful reflection this week. One thing i'm sure is that we are never alone... no matter where we are and what we go through... He sis right there.
Have a blessed week ahead!

Anita Johnson said...

Well, this has been on my mind lately too, thank you for your insights.

Donnie said...

Blessings to you on your struggle with this illness. My prayers are with you and yours.

Anonymous said...

Good post, Renee. I will never presume to "know" that God's wants everyone well. I've seen the devastation that particular doctrine brings about as it not only causes one to doubt that God cares about them, but also causes horrible guilt. (i.e., If only I had more faith, I'd be healed.)

Healing comes in different ways: physically, spiritually and emotionally. God can and does heal in each of those ways. We need to look for what He may be doing in other ways when the physical does not come.

In the meantime, we are to continue to pray and persevere, believing that He will give us grace as we need it.

dunlizzie said...

"...but I do know I can trust my Lord in every season of my life."
well said and Amen to that.
God bless :)

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

It is so hard to walk through any kind of suffering. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Kathy said...

I believe it is always right to ask God for healing. However, the bottom line is that God is sovreign. Whom He chooses to heal and why are mysteries, but He is good, and He is God. When we acknowledge His sovreignty and understand His character, we can take comfort, no matter how our prayers are answered!

dominique said...

As you know, I have pondered this very exact thing for a long time now. I have come to a place, lately, that I just need to learn to BE. If God want's to heal me, I am ready and willing. However, if He chooses not to, then I am willing and ready to be used however He deems appropriate. What I now realize is that whether I am well or ill, God is no less God. He is still able to make my life matter in a way that will far exceed my expectations.

Today I just want to be Mary(?)and sit at His feet. I think these past years I have been Martha(?) and spent too much time doing. So, I will sit at His feet and BE: in His presence, at His mercy, surrendered to His will.

Maybe we were never meant to figure all of this out. Maybe, this is part of our journey that is called Faith. I wonder how much effort and time I have wasted trying to sort this all out that I could have spent with Him.

Anyway, just where I am now.

Thank you for sharing where you are today. Awesome job.