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How to Deal with Suffering
HOW TO COPE WITH SUFFERING
The reason for this discussion guide is for Christians to be able deal with the most basic question that most people have as to why they don’t believe in Christianity, or even in God. In other words, why does God allow so much Pain and Suffering in the world when He’s so Powerful and Good? And with all this Pain and Suffering, what can we do about it? What are some of the procedures we can actually follow to relieve people from this Horrendous Experience? What about Prayer, Bible Readings and Study, Christian Companionship, Forgiveness, and Praise? Also how can one ever Grow in Understanding without Experiencing some sort of Suffering? Here again, some of these questions might be pertinent to your life, others maybe not. Only consider those questions that are meaningful to you, which might take only one sitting, or more. But it might be helpful if these questions were reviewed by the participants a week before they’re discussed to see what is of interest to them. Math 27:46, Math. 6:12, Jer. 31:34, I Thes 5:18. Etc..
1- What causes Suffering? And if there is a loving and powerful God, why do so many Christians and good people have to suffer so much whereas others don’t? What about natural disasters?
2. If we knew all the reasons why people suffer, wouldn’t we be God?
3. What is Exorism and do you believe in it?
4- In suffering, why are some people so sensitive, and others not, over the same event? Give examples.
5- Do you believe in Euthanasia or Mercy Killing?
6- Do you believe in Abortion where it can alleviate some of the suffering? Explain.
7- Without pain, can we really grow spiritually and mentally? Do we need at least some pain to do this?
A) As we grow, will the pain generally become less and less?
B) Without having experienced pain to some degree, and even in a different area of life, can we really help others?
8- In suffering or pain, why does forgiveness play such an important part in the situation?
A) Do you have to forgive, if you don’t condemn?
B) Can you argue with someone without condemning him or her?
C) Do you have to forgive institutions or situations which you’ve condemned in your anger?
D) What about forgiving God?
9- Why is forgetfulness of the bitterness so necessary in true forgiveness?
A) Can forgetfulness be accomplished by your thanking God for everything that happens to you?
B) Can forgetfulness be accomplished by empathizing with the person who hurt you?
10. Why do people commit Suicide and what can one do to prevent someone from committing Suicide?
11- Is it all right to become angry at God? What happens then?
12- Does prayer really work? Give examples.
A) Is meditation really a form of prayer?
So if there is a God, why doesn’t He seem to answer prayer? This is a difficult question to answer, but it’s probably due to the consequences of sin and spiritual warfare taking place around us, although in our prayers one can experience God being with us to comfort and heal us in any of the suffering we’re encountering. The basic function of prayer, however, is to build a faith relationship between God and ourselves, and petitionary prayer is only a small part of this faith relationship. But with petitionary prayer being the crux of the problem as to whether prayer works or not, you can never scientifically prove that petitionary prayer really works, because there are so many interconnected variables to look at in God’s scheme of things. Sometimes prayer seems to work, and sometimes it doesn’t, but here you have to realize our loving God has a much broader perspective as to what is really needed for society’s betterment, than we do while we’re here on earth. And as I said above, you also have to take into account the consequences of sin, and spiritual warfare
13. How do you explain the contradiction in prayer, which are both Biblical, that you’re both to pray for the healing of individuals (Luke 11:9-10), but at the same time you’re to thank God for their illnesses? (I Thes 5:18)
14- Does Bible reading or the memorization of Biblical verses help? Give examples.
15- Faith helps when one is suffering, but what kind of Faith and how does one get this kind of Faith?
16- If you had enough Faith, would you be suffering? If you’re saved, would you be healed?
17- Should one lie in order to prevent another from suffering? Are there other situations in which lying could be acceptable?
18- I know a Christian who has never suffered, despite having some experiences that we all seem to consider as being tragic. Could you explain this? Could you really define what suffering is?
19- As Christians, some feel that we need to suffer to identify with Christ’s suffering, whereas others feel that we shouldn’t suffer, since Christ did the suffering for us. What do you think?
20- Do you feel excessive boredom or the creation of excessive boredom is a sin, and that this can create much suffering?
21- Do you feel that developing a general support group in your Church would help those who are suffering? One might call this a growth or support group.
22- How does one deal with Economic Suffering?
23- How does one deal with Political Suffering?
24- Comment on some of these suggestions in coping with suffering:
A- Participating in Self-Improvement Programs.
B- Practicing Positive-Thought Recitations.
C- Imagining you’re one of your more Positive Thinking Acquaintances.
D- Doing things for others.
E- Participating in a Support Group.
F- Visiting a Psychologist or a Psychotherapist.
G- Going to a Prayer Group.
H- Human cloning, or organ or gene transplanting.
24. How can one continually educate people on how to effectively deal with Suffering or Pain? Possibly by reading one of the crippled-for-life Joni Eareckson’s books.
If you want an even more Biblical study on suffering turn to “The Book of Job”, or if you want a more Christian-psychological approach turn to “A Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck M.D.
Question on Internet: How do you really cope with suffering? Do you blame God for it? Do you hate God? Are you angry with Him? How do you cope with this hate or anger, or in some way do you accept your suffering?
THE RESPONSES COME FROM 3 CHRISTIAN WEBSITES
A summary of some of the comments that some of the contributors over Internet have made:
1) I’ve done it all, and being angry at God is an acceptable emotion because it shows honesty, and this is what God expects from us. Actually a technically blasphemous ploy used sometimes in counseling is to forgive God, just to stop the tendency to keep blaming God all the time.
2) But we should always trust God, even in the midst of all the suffering we have to endure.
3) Our lives tend to move in cycles. As a great hymn once stated “After the sun, the rain: After the rain, the sun: This is the way of life”. Just treasure the benefits you have at the moment, and remember that God is suffering along with us, and that we should try to learn something from this suffering-.
4) In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (N.I.V..) it states “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ” I don’t believe that God actually causes the suffering, but whenever you thank God for everything, even for the suffering, it seems to ease the pain a great deal. In other words, it seems to be a spiritual mechanism for releasing future blessings.
5) Another thought on the subject of suffering is that if all churches try to invest some time into developing in–depth communication growth activities whereby these activities could serve as strong support vehicles for people who are experiencing special life-changing situations, or even in trying to solve ordinary every-day problems, it would be helpful. These groups could be called Support or Growth Groups.
6) In a sense, Jesus was made Perfect through His suffering, and we too can be made perfect though our suffering in that through our suffering we can understand people, and therefore help them, much more effectively because we have gone through many of the same problems. (Hebrews 2:10)
The following are some testimonies on the subject of suffering.
1) John says: I guess you can say that I am some type of an expert when it comes to suffering. Pastoring my first church less than one year I was afflicted with terminal cancer. For six months I battled physical and emotional pain. Then again three years later I once again was afflicted with cancer. This one required that I retire from the ministry. Three years after retirement I came down with kidney then prostrate cancer. Not only do I suffer from cancer, but also from PTSD from Vietnam and Law enforcement. Then I have one wayward daughter that has caused us great sorrow. Living in retirement away from the action is a difficult position for me to be in. I no longer feel needed or appreciated. This by far is the most difficult position for me. I am presently writing my book on suffering, but over all it has increased my faith and made me a better person. God’s word has proved itself to be true in my life. It states “We also glory in tribulation, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character, and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom 5:5). It is the hope of Christ that makes it possible for us to persevere in times of tribulation and distress. We have an anchor for our soul that rests in the One who has gone before us and conquered. God deserves to be trusted. And when you have this trust and hope you can weather any storm in life.
2) Robert says: While I’ve not had cancer, I find a few parallels similar to my own. After graduating from bible college I took up my first pastoral position. Much of my ministry was in marriage counseling. Five months after taking up the position, I was booted out of my home. My marriage was over. This did not do much for my credibility. Following this, I had most of the Christian world turn on me. I hardly ever to get to see my 2 daughters. My name was smeared in every corner of the world, and after the breakup, I fell into a relationship and now have a baby with this lady. I now have nothing to do with that child. I had no money, car, assets, or home, and had ended up being an inconvenience to a Household out of a need to stay somewhere…Anywhere. Six months after the breakup, with no one reaching out to my hand that was outstretched, I attempted suicide and was hospitalized. I then have had to live with the condemnation, (not care) of someone who was not emotionally “with it”. Funny how God will really allow you to go through the ringer. But people tend to go to one extreme of two choices. 1) They give up on God altogether, and damn his name, and give their life to Satan, or 2) They come closer to God and end up having a relationship which is indescribable. I guess we both have the choice which way we are to go.
3) Will says: If you assume that because you have failed God once-or even more than once- in the past, He will never use you in the future, you are limiting God. God has the ability to forgive. He has the ability to turn your failures into triumphs. He is able to figure out a place that’s just right for your particular talent or gift. And furthermore, He desires to put you to use in His Kingdom. You may say, “Well, I didn’t refuse a call from God, but I sinned in a major way. God will never be able to use me.” Again you are limiting the ability of God. God can heal your life, restore you, put you back together, and put you back on track with Him, and use you. Trust Him to do that. Just look at the number of people who have been to prison, failed miserably, fallen from grace, suffered great disrepute or a loss of reputation, and God has lifted them up and restored them. Very often, the latter days of their lives are more fruitful for Him than their former days before the failure. God knows our human frailties. He knows how to overcome them and how to work through them, around them, and in them. God knows how to fix our mistakes. The Christian Church is the only army in the world that shoots its own wounded. I have served in the Navy, the Army, 18 months in Vietnam. I was a big city cop and detective, a deputy sheriff. I drove log trucks, and been a minister and traveling evangelist. I have been all over the world, and have met a lot of people. But sadly to say, that I never knew greater discomfort, and let downs, and downright hostility then when I went into the ministry. But I know that we are not fighting against flesh and blood.. Rather against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. I have learned a long time ago, that the only person that you really have to satisfy is God Himself. And if you are right with Him, nothing else matters. But our God is the God of the first change, and the second, and fifth. He will never turn His back on us. And remember the words of Paul, “Being confident of the very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:6). God bless you my brother in Christ.
Corbin says: Most suffering is really a consequence of the gift that God gave us, which is free will. Other suffering might be caused by creation limitations and unseen spiritual conflict. But free will, I believe, is the major culprit. However we absolutely need free will, because without it, we could never choose to love God or each other, which God definitely wants us to do. But with free will, you also have the possibility of making wrong choices, which is really the cause of much of our major sufferings today. An analogy of how unseen Spiritual Warfare could affect our way of life can be seen by how unseen Spywords in a computer can effect the navigational efforts of a mouse attached to a computer.
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