Engaging with Those Who Are Suffering

By Jason McConahy,

Over the past few weeks, in our study through Job, we have been talking about the tendency for those who suffer to feel isolated. This is due, in part, to the discomfort and mess that suffering brings, which keeps many well-intentioned friends from effectively loving those in need. Instead, we can avoid the discomfort by remaining aloof from those who are in the midst of suffering, or we can try to provide quick-fixes and advice without entering into and sharing in their pain (involvement without empathy), or we can just lack the kind of perseverance needed to come alongside someone whose suffering doesn’t go away. 

Here are some helpful and practical suggestions for ways we can come alongside those who are suffering. These are from a lady in the church body who has suffered through health challenges for nearly a decade.  

  • Don’t try to “fix” the situation. God may have them there a long time.
  • Wash them with the Word - remind them of truth. Share what God is teaching you.
  • STOP! Take time to listen.
  • STOP! Take time to pray on the spot.
  • Pray first, then ask considerate, caring questions, seeking to understand their circumstances.
  • Be willing to walk through the discomfort of processing the ups and downs. (You don’t have to provide answers, just listen).
  • Don’t judge - you don’t know God's purposes and what He is truly doing in their circumstances.
  • Be prepared for a long haul - small touches mean A LOT. (i.e. text, phone call, card with verses, email, etc…)
  • Consider what would speak love and support beyond physical service…TIME spent!
  • Don’t get sucked into the prosperity gospel. Job was righteous but God still let Satan test him. John the Baptist and Paul’s lives ended badly but the end of this life is not the end.
  • Be a patient listener.
  • Reiterate your love for them because when the darkness surrounds you, you feel isolated and unlovable.
  • Repeat God’s promises and truth frequently.
  • If possible, laugh with them.
  • Be willing to trust God to teach you how to walk through the darkness with them.

Listen to the sermon series through the book of Job:

The Suffering King of Glory

By Aaron LeDuc,

“If God is good, why is there suffering in the world?”

The age old question. A question that seems to simultaneously put God on trial and cast great doubt on the Christian life. A question that juxtaposes our experience as we walk through this life and the biblical claims of who God is and what He’s like. As we prepare to remember the atoning death of Jesus and celebrate His great victory over the grave, it would do us good to frame out the answer to this question biblically. In doing so, I believe we will be more able to delight in the wonder of the resurrection of our Lord this Sunday.

Easter Church Service

If we assume for a moment there is a creator God, it will help us to learn WHY He created us as we seek to understand the state of suffering that we experience. The WHY of our creation is a picture painted throughout scripture, but it is most concisely found in Ephesians 1:3-6

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (ESV)

Do you see the “why” there? We were created and chosen “in Christ” so that we might “praise His glorious grace.” So, God’s aim in creating us is that He might show us a display of His glorious grace. And if God is infinitely wonderful, lovely, and glorious, then we should expect a display of infinitely wonderful, lovely, and glorious grace. This display of grace is precisely the thing we are preparing to gather and remember this Friday: the death and suffering of Jesus. The God-Man Jesus Christ was born into this world of suffering to display God’s grace.

Suffering exists so that Jesus might display the infinite, lovely, and glorious grace of God by suffering to overcome our own suffering. In Romans 8 we learn that through sin entering the world, suffering and death entered as well. The creation of God was placed into captivity to this pain and suffering, longing for the redemption from God. Longing for grace. To be human is to long for the very thing we were designed to desire: Redemption. Grace. Glorious grace.

Isaiah says of Jesus:
   Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
          he has put him to grief;
     when his soul makes an offering for guilt,

          he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
     the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
     Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
     by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
          make many to be accounted righteous,
          and he shall bear their iniquities.
     Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
          and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
     because he poured out his soul to death
          and was numbered with the transgressors;
     yet he bore the sin of many,
          and makes intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:10-12)

Church Service on Easter

Without suffering in this world, Jesus could never suffer for us so that we might receive this graceful gift of God! But because we live this life of eager longing through suffering, Jesus was able to demonstrate to us the most wonderful, magnificent, and excellent display of God’s grace. The most undeserving sinners are given the perfect righteousness of the only one who suffered without deserving it. In His suffering Jesus took the very wrath of God away from us, He set us free from our bondage to sin, and He dealt the deathblow to death. And we praise Him for this. His glorious grace.

Join us this Good Friday as we remember and reflect on the suffering of Jesus, then join us on Sunday as we delight and revel in His magnificent resurrection. After Easter, we’ll begin a journey through the book of Job that will help us dive deeper into understanding suffering and the sovereignty of God. I hope you can join us for it all!

Our Life Is Like Grass | Don’t Spread Yourself Thin (Psalm 103:15-17)

By Ashley Denton,

How easy it is to spread yourself thin

“Combatting busyness with more programs is not going to transform the souls of people. Developing Jesus’ rhythm of retreat will.” - Excerpt from Christian Outdoor Leadership

“Combatting busyness with more programs is not going to transform the souls of people. Developing Jesus’ rhythm of retreat will.” - Excerpt from Christian Outdoor Leadership

I’m convinced Jesus is not impressed by how physically or mentally busy I can be. If you are busy, that goes for you too. One litmus test that I hate to take is to ask others around me, like my wife, how they think I am doing in the area of busyness or preoccupation with lesser important things. It is really important to maintain an awareness of the reality of my soul, so I don’t believe my own press that I’m doing “great” when I’m actually not. Sometimes we need other people to help us become aware of the health of our soul.

Recently I had a heart to heart with my wife, and she lovingly reminded me that my “presence” is what pleases God, not my “productivity.” I need to hear that because I love to work and serve and lead. But at the end of the day, what’s going to last is how I invest in those who will outlive me. And that requires presence of mind and heart with those relationships with those closest to me. Busyness is the enemy of that.

Invest in those who will outlive you.

The writers of the Psalms learned so much of their wisdom from going outside and looking at the cycles of nature. In reflecting on what my wife shared with me, I looked out over a large grassland behind my house, and found this Psalm really helpful:

As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children– (Psalm 103:15-17).

There seems to be a special emphasis here to focus on investing in kids. To be blunt, it is the young people around us today who will carry the baton when we are gone. I’m grateful for God’s Creation that can give me a tangible symbol like grass to remind me daily to not spread myself thin, but to invest my best in my kids.

Take Action

  • Ask someone close to you today to honestly help you evaluate how you are pacing your life. Are you running too fast and missing the most important investment of all… relationships?
  • Spend some time reading the Psalm above and meditate on the idea that our lives are short, and we will all be a distant memory some day. What is the legacy that you want to leave behind?
  • Describe in a few words the legacy that you want to pass on to those friends and family who are closest to you.
  • Schedule your legacy. If we don’t plan and schedule our priorities, they won’t happen. So decide on a few habits or patterns you can put into place that will help you invest in passing on the legacy of Christ to those around you. You might want to consider a regular daily, monthly, quarterly retreat into God’s Creation a part of your rhythm, to help you slow down and hear God’s voice.

-Ashley Denton

Other related posts:

Your Soul is the Personal Concern of Jesus | 1 Peter 5:7-8
Winds of Change | Lessons from Mountain Biking & Gear Innovation
Danger of Viewing the World from Behind a Desk & Smartphone

Source: http://outdoorleaders.com/