March 19, 2021 | Suffering


If you were new to earth and were able to watch the news with a full understanding of the language, you might suspect that there is a lot of suffering going on in this country. There certainly is an abundance of complaining. “I don’t get enough of this,” I get too much of that,” “I should be able to get what I want at no cost,” “poor me, can’t you feel my pain!?”


If we’re being honest, however, we all have it pretty good here in the United States. Freedom is expected, liberty is strived for and we are able to practice our faith with relative ease. I think things have been so good for us that we have little opportunity to play the victim, so we make up things. It’s in our nature.


Now, I’m not saying we have nothing to complain about. This country is far from perfect. There are some who suffer greatly and we ask God to relieve them, but relative to other places on earth, we are truly blessed.


We really have no idea, most of us, of what it really means to suffer. According to a new CARE report, these are the top 10 crises that have received little or no attention from the media:

  1. Madagascar is undergoing an acute food crisis because of extreme drought.
  2. Violence in the Central African Republic has put almost 3 million people in desperate need.
  3. Zambia has millions of people without enough food.
  4. Burundi is very instable bringing extreme levels of poverty and significant human rights concerns.
  5. In Eritrea, half of the children under five have stunted growth as a consequence of malnutrition.
  6. DPR Korea locks their people in, and millions are in need of humanitarian assistance to meet their food, health, water, sanitation and hygiene needs.
  7. In Kenya, more than 1.1 million people live without regular access to food because of floods and droughts.
  8. In Burkina Faso, around 5.2 million people are affected by escalating violence.
  9. In Ethiopia there has been a vicious cycle of disaster, hunger and displacement for years.
  10. In Lake Chad Basin, armed conflict has affected nearly 10 million people with displacement and hunger.


Here, in the United States, we complain because our college isn’t free. We really have no idea what it means to truly suffer.


Suffering is part of the human condition, in fact, it’s a necessary part of spiritual growth. 1 Peter 5:10 gives this advice, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” He is not saying “if” you suffer but “after” you have suffered. No one bypasses suffering in this world because no one can escape from the conditions brought on by sin. But even in this, God offers us His grace and mercy. God will not allow you to suffer without Him.


Therefore, we are called to, “Rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).


No one wants to suffer and its very hard to find things to rejoice in when were undergoing it, yet we can learn from it or we can let it defeat us. The devil will use your sufferings to break you down but within each of us there is a strength to overcome, even if just a flicker. It is in our greatest interest to “Know that for those who love God all things work together for our good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).


I know, these are beautiful words when you’re not suffering but hard to grasp onto when you are. But be strong in your sufferings and help those in the midst of theirs. Our faith will carry us through if we let it. God continues to look after His children and relieve them from their suffering every day. So, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). Please pray with me:


Heavenly Father, thank you for being at our side when we suffer. Give us the strength to allow You to bring us out of that suffering and don’t allow us to take matters into our own hands. Thank you for Your Son who showed us suffering so that we might be free. Amen.