The Right Response To Suffering

This is my newspaper article in today’s paper

No one likes to suffer, but it is a part of life. It is easy to become angry and lash out. However, there is a better way. Jesus is our example. In 1 Peter 2:21-22, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow in His steps: Who committed no sin, and there was no deceit in His mouth.”


Suffering comes in myriad forms. We cannot consign it to one category. I was thinking about this. When I was younger, and I was asked how I was, my answer would be ‘fine’ because it was an easy cop out.


I began my healing journey in 1983. At that point I was learning how to forgive those who had hurt me. If someone asked me how I was, my reply would be that I was pressing into Jesus. If that opened a conversation, I could explain what I was wrestling with at that time. It is so easy to hide behind cliches or facades. 


Psalm 15:2 is a great example of a right response in our suffering. It says, “He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart.” The next time someone asks you how you are, you might like to open your heart a bit, and say, “I’m glad you asked. Do you have a minute?” That will give them an out if they don’t. If they say ‘yes’ then you can begin with, “Yesterday I heard discouraging news. How do you handle times when you feel discouraged?”


Our suffering is an opportunity to reach out in a deeper way. The Lord set that up for us. 2 Corinthians 1:3 says that He is the God of all comfort. Verse 4 is the established pattern that He designed and desires. It says, “Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”


We can also ask “Is there a specific way I could pray for you today?” That would be an enactment of Galatians 6:2 to bear one another’s burdens. Prayer is coming alongside someone, partnering with them in their suffering. It gives us an opportunity to ask and receive.


So much verbal exchange is just surface. There is no depth because it is not a heart-to-heart conversation. Paul admonished the Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians 6:11 he told them, “…our heart is wide open.” Then he disclosed their hearts in verse 12. “You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.” When we keep our emotional pain buried, we miss God’s way to rightly respond to our suffering.

Romans 12:19 says, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” This is a great truth that we need to keep in the forefront of our minds.


1 Peter 2:20 says, “For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.”


Jesus is our example. Verse 23 says, “Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.” 


In Isaiah 53:7 it says, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.”


Jesus did not verbally react, nor was there even a thought of revenge. He knew He was right, but He didn’t fight for His rights. We do well to remember our words come from our thoughts when we are insulted, treated wrongfully, or slandered. 


The key is trust. Jeremiah 17:5 warns us “…Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.” When we take vengeance into our own hands, we depart from God’s way. It is not ours to solve, only to trust and obey.


If you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, now is the perfect opportunity. Jesus died for you. He paid the full penalty of your sins: past, present, and future. I encourage you to confess that you are a sinner and receive His gift of eternal life.

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