You can find God in a place where you don't want to go
Where do you go to find God? Why is it so hard to find Someone who is supposed to be everywhere?
The answer to those questions is that God is most present in a place none of us want to go: our suffering. And the irony, of course, is that's where we need him most.
You can't avoid going there
We singles have a lot of freedom--sometimes too much. We can use it in constructive or destructive ways. The sad but inescapable truth is that sometimes, but not all the time, we bring our troubles on ourselves.
No matter how suffering catches up with us, we try to avoid it as much as possible. I don't like to suffer, and I know you don't either. I think it should be avoided whenever possible, but sometimes it just can't be.
When it happens, we often spend so much time complaining about how unfair it is that we fail to get anything out of it. I did that many, many times and I'm telling you honestly, don't make the same mistake I made.
When suffering overtakes you and you can't get out of it, learn something from it. Profit from it. Use the experience to make you better and stronger and wiser than you were before.
if you look for him, you'll find God.
We see this lesson in the Bible over and over. For some reason, we have a hard time applying it in our own lives.
Find God by calming down
Suffering seems like the perfect opportunity to blame God. He's often our scapegoat when things go wrong. If you're a Christian, you think you deserve better. You think you should be exempt from suffering.
But Jesus wasn't. That truth should be enough to make us straighten up.
God built into each one of us a desire for fairness. Life isn't fair, though. Good people get sick. Good people lose their jobs, get divorced, and have all kinds of catastrophes happen to them. Good people like you suffer.
It takes real humility to stop blaming God for your suffering. I confess it's taken me most of my life to learn that lesson. I'm not wise enough to explain to you why good people like you and me suffer, but I've at least stopped blaming God every time. I'm still not quite where I want to be.
Yes, it takes lots of willpower to calm down and try to get something out of your suffering, but what's the alternative? Complain and whine? Make yourself even more miserable? Get bitter and alienate your loved ones? Pity yourself so much you become unattractive to a potential spouse?
We all want to find God. This is our chance to do it, in a powerful way.
Turning bad into good
I've said several times on this site that when something bad happens to you, the most important question to ask is not "Why?" but "What would you have me do now, Lord?"
We find God when we want to have a relationship with him. That's his deepest desire for us. When we stop trying to use him for our genie, our scapegoat, our success provider, and our Santa Claus, we're ready for a mature, intimate relationship with him.
The unique thing about suffering is that it cuts away all the pretense. It's raw. It hurts. You're down to the reality of life. You're finally ready to depend on God.
God wants us to depend on him, totally, all the time. He is our Father and wants us to be his children. Suffering strips away your pride and your independence. When you really hurt, that's when you find God.
Not forgetting what you've learned
Suffering can make you say, "Okay, God. I finally realize how helpless I am. I need you big time. Will you please pull me out of this pit?"
Slowly, gradually, he does. Sometimes it takes years. I think the speed depends on how much we submit to him. Sure, we have a part to play, but if we keep remembering that the object is a closer, more intimate relationship with God, not necessarily an instant end to the suffering, we either get relief from the suffering or he gives us supernatural strength to bear it. I've experienced both.
Once that happens, we have the tendency to exert our independence again. We get overconfident. We forget what we've just learned.
Whether God allows more suffering to come to us I'm not sure, but if we don't learn our lesson very well, we tend to get another dose. Regardless, suffering will come our way again. If we let it bring us into a closer relationship with God, it'll be easier for us to take next time.
If you're suffering now, and I know many of you are, look for God in it. He wants to give you the strength and courage to press on. God wants to give you as much of himself as you desire. More than anything, he wants to fill you to overflowing with his love.
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