We’re all going to struggle in this life. I spent part of yesterday with a gentleman who is struggling greatly – he’s facing financial difficulties, he’s facing health difficulties, and he’s facing family difficulties. No matter the struggle – financial or health or family or others – we have known struggle and we shall know struggle. Job well noted, “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1).
Being of “few days and full of trouble” is a curse of this fallen world. When man first sinned in the Garden, he brought trouble upon himself. “To the woman [Yhwh] said, ‘I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you’” (Genesis 3:16). “And to Adam [Yhwh] said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, “You shall not eat of it,” cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return’” (Genesis 3:17-19). Woman, man, and even the ground itself, not to mention the serpent, became cursed because Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit.
I’ve talked freely on this blog about my own struggles and how I have found and continue to find the strength, faith, courage, and hope to continue the fight. But, I’d like to turn the tables just a tad and ask a simple, yet importantly profound question: “What does God expect of me when I suffer?”
God expects me to:
- Pray. When Jesus faced the trial of the cross, He went to the Garden and prayed. When Paul faced the trial of his thorn in the flesh, he prayed. Surely, if His Son and the Apostle to the Gentiles needed to pray in the hour of trial, God expects us to do the same!
- Ask for Help. We live in a self-reliant culture. We have the mistaken belief because of American individualism, that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Yet, God expects us to allow others to help bear our burdens: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). God expects others to bear my burdens; they cannot do so unless they know what those burdens are. Don’t be afraid to ask for and receive help from you brothers and sisters in Christ.
- Trust. God told Abraham to leave his homeland; Abraham trusted and left. God told Abraham that, although he and his wife were rapidly advancing in age, he would have a child of promise; “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:20-21). God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, the child of promise; Abraham trusted and attempted to sacrifice his son. Even in life’s darkest days, let our faith in God not waver!
- Help Others. Paul understood the need to use his trials to help others: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). As we face trials and see God’s goodness in the midst of our pain, we’re able to help others see God’s goodness in the midst of their pain. Never forget the powerful ministry you can accomplish in the midst of your pain.
- Be an Example. God expects all of us to be examples. “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16). As we trust God and ask for help and pray and help others in the hour of our trial, we give faith and courage to those who one day will face trials.
We live in a fallen world and suffering, therefore, is a certainty. Never forget to fulfill your God-given obligations in the midst of your suffering.