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A Biblical Understanding of Suffering

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John had worked for the same company for most of his adult life and was looking forward to retirement. He and his wife had made plans, or at least his wife, Julia, had made plans for their retirement. It included travel of course, especially to somewhere hot and dry in the winter. But it also included hours of oohing and aahing over a new grandchild. Then, one day, the plans changed.

Julia, who had been feeling “off” for a while, went to the doctor and, several medical tests later, it was revealed she had developed a fast-moving cancer.

A year later, John was in a house that was too big for one person and had too many memories of happier times. His daughter and grandson visited regularly but it was not enough to overcome the loneliness. Friends came by when they could but loneliness was the new normal. There is nothing more discouraging than the feeling of being alone. Aloneness is sharpest when we are suffering.

We can learn a great deal about suffering and pain from the bible. It provides comfort for those that suffer and wisdom for those who care. We are told in Revelation 21:4, that eventually, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain….” But, in the meantime, we are encouraged to “rejoice with those that rejoice; mourn with those that mourn.”

The church is designed by God to function as a community of believers, as one body. Therefore, when one member is suffering, it is natural for other members of the body to feel the pain as well.

As Stephen Ministers, we understand that as long as there is sickness and sadness, Jesus suffers along with us. We participate in His suffering as we come alongside the hurting and offer them the gift of our presence. Often, we weep with those who weep. We understand that your pain is real, it hurts, and it matters. We are willing to enter into the pain of those who are suffering to help them bear the burden.
Please contact a Stephen Minister if you need practical support for the challenges you are facing.

Posted by Doug Thomson