Bitter or Better?

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Suffering ... there seems to be a lot of it around doesn't there?

You don't have to look far to find it. It's on the news, in the papers, on the radio, in social media, may be just next door or even in our own homes!

Seeing as this unfortunate part of life visits us all at some time or another, what can we do to prepare ourselves for it? What can we learn from such adverse experiences?

I have noticed that suffering can affect us in different ways. Some grow weary, angry or nervous, while others going through something similar grow stronger, more patient and more confident.

How can this be?

Perhaps it all depends where we have our focus.

We live in a suffering world and without an upward look, and without the living God, our lives would be very bleak indeed!

A little while ago I heard a small motivational secular message about our attitude towards suffering and I had to pen down the following words which I felt were significant:

"It's never what happens to us in life,
it's always the meaning we choose to give what happens to us that makes the difference."
Peter Sage

I totally agree; for suffering can affect us in one of two ways - it can either make us bitter or better!

Having gone through a number of crucible experiences of my own I have learned to look out for the gems to be discovered along the way. I found treasures in those dark hours that I will never lose. For me those treasures are appreciations of my beloved Lord and Saviour that are far too precious to keep to myself.

I now spend my life seeking to share what I know about Him with as many as is humanly possible.

O, that you might know the Saviour like I know Him - then you would know for certainty that no matter what the circumstance - He is able!

Having spent a couple of Sunday lunchtime Bible studies in our Church covering the great and emotive subject of suffering and answering that soul searching question many people ask: "If God is a God of love, why doesn't He do anything about all the suffering there is in the world?"

Among the many answers that came to the surface,

This is the one which I felt was like a beacon shining a ray of light into the darkness ...

God is not aloof to human suffering.

Two thousand years ago He came to this earth and lived here in a human body for thirty-three years. During that time He knew what suffering was all about.

He lived in abject poverty. He knew what it was like to be famished, exhausted, weary, worn and sad.

He knew the sorrow of betrayal, rejection and ridicule.

His experience of torture and crucifixion was more acute than anyone who has ever gone through such an experience before.

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Alone in a garden hours before He died on a cross He pleaded with His Father to remove from Him the suffering He was anticipating - if it was at all possible!

But heaven was silent to His agonising cry and He conceded with this answer: "Not my will but thine be done".

The blending of two perfect wills was accomplished and He would go ahead with all that was necessary to save poor sinners like you and me from sin and its consequences.

You see, even Christ had to suffer!

He suffered for our sins and He understands our all of our troubles and trials firsthand! And this is what makes our God unique apart from the world's other gods which are lifeless images, statues or imaginations of the human mind.

You can do one of two things when the winds of adversity blow your way. You can turn your collar as it were to the wind and rain and muddle through on your own but you can be sure that doing this for too long will have adverse effects. This kind of lonely suffering will make you ugly and bitter.

Or you can turn to the One who knows and sympathises with your sufferings and allow Him to strengthen you through those trials. With His help you can be sure you will be the better for it.

Perhaps you will learn a thing or two you will never forget. Treasures of your own you can keep - forever!

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