Tuesday, June 14, 2011

On the Road Again - PERSEVERANCE IN SUFFERING



It is difficult to differentiate between the words “chunking” or “chucking” on paper. One suggests breaking suffering in to manageable pieces and the other is the result of not doing so. When we push our body beyond its physical limitation, internal systems begin to shut down. One result includes “hurling” the egg and sausage biscuit on the side of the road.

My carnal response to pain is “fight or flight.” Both reactionary responses have proven to end with hopelessness, a.k.a. hurling, walking, or screaming.

As I temper my reactions and decide to respond instead, I find myself repeatedly choosing milestones to accomplish. Each segment then becomes a momentary tribulation that comes and goes. To reach these milestones I go through a series of steps: observe, plan, execute, celebrate, and select. I find delight in the completion of the individual tasks and they help take the focus off the anguish.

To persevere in life in the midst of suffering involves much more than just managing the pain and muddling through. Suffering requires a right response – joy (Romans 5:3). When painful circumstances cannot be avoided I have found that turning from trusting in my own resources to turning toward faith in God’s resources is essential. When I become faithless, He is faithful (2 Timothy ). As I press on in His right thinking and His right behavior, I have a right response (Proverbs 2, 4). He is faithful to meet me where I am with what I need to complete the task: strength, provision, courage, and hope (Psalm 62).

True joy does not come from my accomplishment but from being in intimate communion with Him. Joy permeates my everyday life when I recognize life is not about my pleasure. God is not concerned as much about my happiness as He is with my holiness. It is by faith I can live in harmony with Him.  

Because I have experienced God for myself, I am quicker to surrender my schedule for His perfect timing, His provision over my striving, His perspective over my own, His attitude over my ugliness, and desire His power for restraint.

So, in order to accomplish perseverance in suffering we allow God to be bigger than our current condition. Claim allegiance to a living God, not a stationary idol, philosophy, or a dead prophet. God does not hide from me or you.

So, how do WE accomplish this? Just as on my bike, I break it down in to manageable pieces:

  • Return to Him (James 4:8).
  • Rest in Him (John 15:7).
  • Praise Him (Psalm 150).
  • Hunger for Him (Psalm 34:8)
  • Be thankful for His perspective, His provision, and His peace (Psalm 100).
  • Lift up His name (Psalm 100).

Suffering may come as a result of living in a fallen world where sin abounds or from my own rebellion. Regardless, the situation is hard, the reason perplexing, and yet, proves itself purposeful. God can use suffering to bring us to a more intimate communion with Him.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
- James 1:2-4


This is the third post in a six week series on hill climbing. Be sure to read the ENTIRE series ... On the Road Again

If you enjoyed this blog series you may also enjoy the series ... Open Road, Narrow Path
 
To learn more about how to experience God in your everyday life read The Whee Factor.

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amen! I bet James was a good hill climber.