How To Respond to Our Suffering

Yesterday (Thursday) evening Leonora and I attended the weekly meeting of our church’s Life group hosted by Roland and Sherry Loder. Nine attended the meeting, and we considered these sections of Randy Alcorn’s If God Is Good Why Do We Hurt? booklet (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Multnomah Books, 2010):
– “What’s the Right Way to Respond to Our Suffering?”
– “Jesus–The Only Answer Bigger Than the Questions”
As usual the study was preceded and followed by singing and prayer.

Actually we began by returning to this paragraph in a section that we’d read in our previous meeting: “It [Suffering] can also increase our effectiveness in talking to others about Christ. People hear the gospel best when it comes from those who have known difficulty” (booklet, page 66). I illustrated it by reading the story of Graham and Gladys Staines, missionaries to India, from Randy Alcorn’s If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Multnomah Books, 2009); pages 436-37). The story also appears in Randy Alcorn’s Eternal Perspectives Ministries blog at The World Was Not Worthy of Them: Martyrs for Christ.

We then discussed the four suggestions in “What’s the Right Way to Respond to Our Suffering?”:
1. Look to God’s promises in the Bible for comfort. Alcorn quotes 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (ESV; all Bible quotations are from the ESV).
2. Anticipate God’s rewards. Alcorn quotes Luke 6:23, “Rejoice…and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven.”
3. Lighten the load through prayer. Alcorn quotes Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
4. Share your life with others who suffer.
In connection with 1 and 2 I read and commented on Psalm 73, and in connection with 3 I read a quotation about prayer from Joni Eareckson Tada given in If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil (pages 464-65).

I closed our study of If God Is Good Why Do We Hurt? by reading its closing section, “Jesus–The Only Answer Bigger Than the Questions.” It concludes, “When it comes to goodness and evil, present suffering, and eternal joy…the first Word, and the last, is Jesus (page 75).

In the next six weeks our Life group will be discussing our pastors’ Easter sermons. I won’t be reporting on them here, and so there won’t be any Friday posts here for the next six weeks.

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