Friday, August 5, 2016

Surrender to Suffering

Jeremiah 21:9 He who dwells in this city will die by the sword and by famine and by pestilence; but he who goes out and falls away to the Chaldeans who are besieging you will live, and he will have his own life as booty. (NASB)

It seems counter-intuitive that surrender would end better than standing your ground, especially for Americans. But that is just what God told the Israelites when they were besieged by the Babylonians.

I read a story⃰ about a woman who learned (after a near perfect life) that her third child died in utero. Unable to bear the pain of suffering, she and her husband turned to their own sources of consolation. He became a workaholic, she an alcoholic. Those choices resulted in the destruction of everything they knew: family, marriage, work, relationships. Everything fell apart.

I think both of these stories have the same reasoning behind them.
Suffering is often used as a tool by God to mold our lives. As storms cause a tree’s roots to grow deeper making the tree more secure, so suffering should make us stronger in our faith in God. That is why God told the Israelites to surrender. He was punishing them for their sin, but if they admitted their wrong, submitted themselves to His chastisement and sought Him they would return and prosper. If, however, they remained prideful and refused to yield to God’s teaching, they and everything they had would perish. Even if what we are going through is not a result of  God purging sin, our suffering is still an opportunity to grow stronger in the Lord. It may mean pain and humiliation but it will end in strength and life.

How do you react to suffering? Can you say as Job did, “Naked I came and naked I go, blessed be the name of the Lord”? You need to keep your focus on God, His will and plans, and eternity. Act in a manner that will show trust in God and love for others rather than reacting from your emotions. In the big picture, what you go through is necessary and even good, but you don’t usually see that when you go through it. You have to trust that “this is God’s will concerning” you. Is He worthy of your complete trust? Is He worth submitting and surrendering to?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Proverbs 3:5-6 New International Version (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Surrender your life and circumstances to Him. Be willing to learn what He has to teach you and cling to the Founder of the universe.

⃰ Taken from “Live a Praying Life in Adversity” by Jennifer Kennedy Dean, pg 35-38

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