Are you suffering? Most people hear that question and equate it to being ill, so if you are healthy you may say, no. But what about if the question was, do you have any struggles, troubles, problems, setbacks, or dealing with a loss of some sort? Ahhhh, now we are getting somewhere, most people would respond with, yes. Those are all forms of suffering. In the study, Faithful Abundant True, Kay Arthur talks about her suffering the loss of a relationship with her oldest child who has shunned her. Some of you can relate to that, and I will say I am ever thankful that I have not experienced that, and hope I never do. For those of you that have, my heartfelt prayers for a reconciliation. You see, when we hear of another person’s struggle we then compare it to ours to see who has it worse off, and if ours is greater, then we dismiss the other person’s to having no problems. Not so. To each of us our struggles, troubles, problems, setbacks, and losses are very important.
A struggle that is common in each person’s situation is, how do we handle it? Do we hide, run away, shrink back, or lose hope? Or, do we keep forging on, keep believing, and keep doing, staying focused on the end goal? I once heard someone say to another who was going through a hard time, “I would help you out, but I know you won’t take it?” I had to cock my head, wrinkle my eyebrows, and thought, are you for real? And, to echo the slogan of Nike – Just do it. My thought was they really didn’t want to help otherwise they would have just done it. My old pastor once said in one of his sermons, “Your neighbor is anyone in which you see a need, and you have the means to help them.” Please don’t get me wrong on this, helping is not always giving money. It can be sitting and listening, having coffee together, sending a card, helping them by cleaning their house, or bringing a meal over, there are several ways to help someone that is struggling. So how do you handle your struggles, troubles, problems, setbacks, and losses? Because one thing we can be certain of is, they will come. Maybe not today, but they will come; “when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” Jas. 1:2NLT. Notice the words in the verse “when troubles come your way,” when – did you catch that? So the question is how do we handle them?
Kay has us look at Hebrews 10: 35 & 36, we are to have confidence, and endurance. Those two things can be very difficult in the midst of a struggle. How do we keep our confidence and endurance when things look bleak? We are to fix our eyes on Jesus, Heb. 12:2. But, how do we do that? A long time ago I was sitting in a Sunday School class, and a woman was speaking, who is now a dear friend of mine. She passed out index cards, and taught on the Standing Stones from the book of Joshua, she said, “ok on the card write down major events in your life that looking back you know, it could only be the hand of God that got you though.” Some events on my card were – with only $99.00 in my checking account, I moved out of the house I was living in and got my own apartment; with no car of my own when I moved out God placed people in my life that allowed me to purchase a car; removed me from a bad relationship; and moved me from one job to another when I thought all hope was lost. There are many more, but if God would do those things for me, why would he stop now? You see God is not a man that would lie, or a son of man that changes his mind. When he speaks, he acts. Num 19:23 NLT. And, it is by faith we are to walk and live as it says in Heb 11, and rest in the promise of Isaiah 43:18b-19a., “it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new, see, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness.”
So hang in there, don’t quit the fight, keep enduring, keep moving forward, pressing in because as Kay say’s “The ‘after’ tells us their suffering was in the past. Everyone did not experience the same thing. Remember that, dear one, we all suffer but it is in various ways.” Arthur. The words from Mandisa’s song Overcomer ring in my ears, “You’re an overcomer. Stay in the fight ‘til the final round.” So put on your boxing gloves, lace them up, hit your hands together, bounce up and down on your toes, look at your struggles, troubles, problems, and setbacks, and in the words of the lion from the Wizard of OZ, say – “put’em up, put’em up!”