'Christ in You...'
by Dale Krebbs
Are you, or have you ever been, hurt? Are you hurting now, in an ongoing and progressive sense? Are you in some way, in "a world of hurt"? If so, is it of such intensity that you would call it suffering? Is the suffering of such intensity that it could be called agony...? It is probably a safe thing to say that everyone falls into at least one of the categories above - past or present. If not, then probably we all will be - someday. It seems that the poet and the musician have always been correct when they penned that the whole world is hurting. The world is more than hurting - it is suffering. It is suffering beyond our words to express, or ability to comprehend, except in small pieces here and there, becoming more intense as it gets closer to where we live. There are all kinds of "hurt" in this world - so many that there are too many to even begin to enumerate.
Hurting and suffering, of some kind and of some degree, we must admit, is universal. No one really escapes. We just simply concur that it is a given, and that it is appointed for all - especially those who bear the mantle and name of Jesus Christ (Psalm 34:19; 1 Peter 5:9))! To the extent that it is God’s will for each, hurting and sufferings will vary in type and intensity (Hebrews 12:8). It is also true that one person’s hurt is another’s suffering or agony. So, to some degree suffering is subjective. Some have a high or low tolerance for physical pain (athletes, etc.). How severe it is depends upon the one experiencing it(1Thessslonians 3:3).
One of the most difficult to bear suffering is emotional and spiritual hurts. And since these are heart-based afflictions, the descriptions and the intensity often cannot be calculated or described - even by those involved. Many times is the bitterness of disappointment, broken promises and loyalties. It seems that most of the accounts of suffering and hurting of this kind recorded in the Bible revolve around family, in one way or another. This theme runs from Abraham through the ages until Jesus came, and on into the Apostolic Age.
Many such incidents of emotional pain and suffering are recorded in the Book of Psalms, and within the history of David. So many times the cries of David have come to mind, when he cried: "...O MY SON Absalom, MY SON, MY SON Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, MY SON, MY SON!"- 2 Samuel 18:33. So much suffering and hurt occurs and originates within families - the very place where thee should be the most of the very opposite! It is no different today. Splintered, shattered families, who have not spoken in years; grudges carried for generation after generation. Cultural and racial divides (which are just extended families) and conflicts, extending into national and regional suffering and agonies beyond imagination have wracked the earth since it all started long ago. David was promised suffering within his family, as the result of his sin with Bathsheba. Although a strong and tough warrior, David was perhaps the most tender hearted man who ever lived - until Jesus Christ came in the form of a man. Little wonder that He called David a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), and is considered a type of Jesus Christ, who will also be a great Warrior and Kind who will punish and destroy the evil that is destroying the world, prior to setting up His kingdom (Revelation 19:11-16).
But - thanks be to God and His Son Jesus Christ! - there is an upside to the suffering that we do not like to talk about or even think about. It may be difficult to see at first, or even to think about long enough to see. I do not even like to write about suffering, much less experience it. However, there is a kind of fellowship in suffering that is perhaps the most valuable experience one can ever have! There is a quality of character about those who have suffered in various ways that is so valuable to God! Those who suffer and those who tend the suffering both seem to grow in the same direction. Those who minister to or mend the sick, bind up wounds, encourage the dying, comfort the bereaved - ALL grow spiritually together as Christians. Conversely, where there is the least suffering (it is so sad to state this truth), there is where there is the least love, compassion, kindness, consideration, empathy, and spiritual growth in general. If we think about it seriously, we can see this in the events of all society, secular and spiritual. I was told that immediately after the terrible event on September 11,2001, one was talking to people in a city in the American Northwest, and that they seemed so friendly, caring, and unusually helpful. When questioned about this, most would reply that it had been that way since 9/11. Even the knowledge of other’s suffering can have a mellowing affect - but a permanent change in character? That takes more than a good thing - that takes a God Thing!
The hurts and suffering of a Christian is purely and completely a "God Thing". There is not one pain, there not one heartache, there is not one emotional throbbing of a loss that Jesus has not already experienced (Hebrews 2:10), and IS experiencing along with us! He enters into our suffering and hurts to experience them in order to comfort us. By so doing, He changes us! He is the Master potter. We are the clay (Isaiah 64:8). Down through the years this writer has prayed that God would teach me and change me the easiest way possible! He has. Not always by what I thought was the easiest way, but - He is still working on me. We are all a work in progress - and always will be, until Jesus returns. There is an interesting aspect about an object being molded. It needs just the right amount of water and the right amount of pressure. We as the "mold" of Christ, can be made soft and moldable by the "water" of God’s Word (1 Corinthians 3:6; Proverbs 11:25)). And many times, He uses the "pressure" of hurt and suffering to move us unto His own image (Romans 9:21), and even the sufferings and agonies of the world are but a prelude of better things to come some day - in God’s time and in His season (Revelation 2:27; Acts 1:6-7).
If you are suffering in some way today, you are not alone (Hebrews 4:15). You are not alone in yourself, or among others, because you are the member of a very special fellowship: the Fellow Of Suffering. If you are a Christian, you have a special Comforter, right there, inside of you. He will aid you, and strengthen you, encourage you (2 Corinthians 1:5). He will not allow you to become a broken vessel (1 Corinthians 10:13). Those who suffer are automatically joined by the Holy Spirit Himself, and by each other in ways that are past describing or understanding. (2 Timothy 2:12). No matter how long it may be until it is over, Jesus will NEVER leave you on your own (Isaiah 40:31; Psalm 73:25-26).
I know it does not seem so now, but the time is coming when the hurt and suffering will not even come to mind (Romans 8:18). Jesus will have come.
We will know that it was He who was carrying us all the time...
"Even to your old age I am He, and even to hair white with age will I carry you. I have made, and I will bear; yes, I will carry and will save you." - Isaiah 46:4
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