I recently read a blog I found very practical and "right on."
Suffering is part of life, but learning how to suffer well is essential.
Acknowledge you are suffering. It can be very difficult to even admit you are suffering. I don't know why this is, but it is. It was difficult for me. I wanted to give off the impression that I was/am doing better than I really was. I think some deep part of me believed that I should be able to handle everything. That is why the lie is so insidious. If you believe "God won't give you more than you can handle" then when you feel like you are about to be crushed you begin to believe that something is wrong with you. But you were never meant to experience suffering. The world God created was one void of suffering. Nothing changed after the fall in us that made us better equipped to suffer. If anything our brokenness handicaps our ability to suffer well. And so, because the world was not created to include suffering and we were not created to suffer, there is something redemptive and right about acknowledging our suffering. It screams the truth that the world is not as it should be. It is a cry for God to return to his creation and redeem and restore. And I believe, in order to experience God in the midst of our suffering, we have to begin by acknowledging we are suffering.
Be present to your feelings. Even if you are guy. Know what you are feeling. Are you sad? Are you pissed? Are you frustrated? Those feelings, while related, are very different. Be present to what you are feeling. This is more than just saying, "This is how I feel," but it is actively applying thought to your feelings so that you can decide what action must be taken for you to appropriately deal your feelings. Admittedly, this is not something I have always been good at. But I am learning. And what I have learned is that being present to my feelings enables me to avoid destructive actions of numbing the pain. I don't feel like spacing out for hours watching TV to get a break. It has reduced my propensity to project my anger from the thing I am upset with to innocent bystanders. Being present to our feelings is not just a coping mechanism. It is an acknowledgement that God created us to be physical, spiritual, and emotional beings.
Be vulnerable with others. In this highly individualized, pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps culture one can believe suffering is something you need to be handle by yourself. This approach to life is held up as the ideal; the epitome of self-sufficiency and capability. In fact, being vulnerable is often equated with being weak.
The word "courage' is French in its root and comes from the word for "heart." In a very real sense, to live a life of courage is to share the story of one's heart. Living in such a way that your heart's story is told takes courage. It does not take courage to feign being okay and live under the pretense of being self-sufficient. It takes courage to be vulnerable and reveal the story of your heart. Living courageously, or wholeheartedly, is what allows us to connect with others and others to connect with us. When we connect with others we find out we are not alone. People are able to share in our suffering and truly "mourn with those who mourn." If anything, the response to my last blog post exemplifies this.
Don't run from God, run to God. God can take it. He can take your pain, he can take your frustration, he can take your anger. Take it to him. Are you angry with him? Tell him about it. Are you frustrated? Let him know. The Bible contains example after example of people who have done just this. Moses, Elijah, David, Jeremiah, and Paul all voiced their pain to God. And all found God to be sufficient. That doesn't mean they got an answer and understanding about why they experienced suffering. But they did find God to be enough.
Celebrate what is good....in midst of all that is broken in the world there are still good things. Things that are worth celebrating. It isn't just the big things that are worthy of celebrating. We can celebrate a friend who sat with us and cried. We can celebrate spring being around the corner. We can celebrate getting out of bed in the morning we didn't feel like we could. Celebrating what is good opens our eyes to the broad spectrum of the human experience enabling us to see beyond, even if just a short distance, the pain.
- See more at: http://natepyle.com/practices-for-suffering-well/#sthash.r5SBwb4w.dpuf
In my email, Monday through Friday, I receive a "Daily Growth Scripture Reading" from Ken Boa's ministry.
He wrote a book titled "Conformed To His Image" which is about biblical and practical approaches to Spiritual Formation. It explores twelve facets of the gem of the spiritual life. These are relational, paradigm, disciplined, exchanged life, motivated, devotional, holistic, process, Spirit-filled, warfare, nurturing, and corporate spirituality. This book seeks to offer a comprehensive, balanced, and applicable approach to what it really means to know Christ.
I highly recommend reading it.
(email address is email@example.com)
(web address is http://www.kenboa.org/reflections)
Below is an example of what the Daily Growth email looks like. They are scripture based and encouraging.
Daily Growth for October 14, 2013
Prayers of Affirmation: Part 7
Scripture Prayer Guide
If Your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction. (Psalm 119:92)
I have kept my feet from every evil path
That I might keep Your word.
I gain understanding from Your precepts;
Therefore I hate every false way. (Psalm 119:101, 104)
You are my hiding place and my shield;
I have put my hope in Your word. (Psalm 119:114)
The entrance of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple. (Psalm 119:130)
Trouble and anguish have come upon me,
But Your commands are my delight. (Psalm 119:143)
My help is in the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)
Unless the Lord builds the house,
Its builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchmen stay awake in vain. (Psalm 127:1)
Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways. (Psalm 128:1)
O Lord, what is man that You know him,
Or the son of man that You think of him?
Man is like a breath;
His days are like a passing shadow. (Psalm 144:3-4)
The Lord watches over the strangers;
He sustains the orphan and the widow,
But He thwarts the way of the wicked. (Psalm 146:9)
Simple Book of Prayers
Lord, You have invited me to pray for the needs of others, and since You desire what is best for them, I take this opportunity to bring these requests to You.
Blessed are those whose strength is in You,
Who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. (Psalm 84:5)
O Lord, be gracious to us; we have hoped in You.
Be our strength every morning,
Our salvation in time of distress. (Isaiah 33:2)
Take a moment to lift up the needs of your family and friends, and to offer up any other burdens for others that the Lord brings to mind.
We who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those who are not strong, and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (Romans 15:1-2)
No one should seek his own good, but the good of others. (1 Corinthians 10:24)
Lord, I thank You for Your power and might and for Your lovingkindness. I thank You for being my portion, and I ask that I would be mindful of the needs of others. Daily Encouragement
The Attributes of God: Part 5
Handbook to Renewal
The Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and joy are in His place. I will ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. I will ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name and worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. (1 Chronicles 16:25-29)
You are the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy. You live in a high and holy place but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. (Isaiah 57:15)
The Works of God
God completed the heavens and the earth in all their vast array. By the seventh day God finished the work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His creative work. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done. (Genesis 2:1-3)
O Lord, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. (2 Kings 19:15)
My Relationship to God
Glory in the holy name of the Lord; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonderful works He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He pronounced. (1 Chronicles 16:10-12)
Since I am receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, I will be thankful and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for my God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29)
The Character I Want to Cultivate
I will put away perversity from my mouth and keep corrupt talk far from my lips. (Proverbs 4:24)
I will not let any corrupt word come out of my mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may impart grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)
My Relationship to Others
Like Abraham, I should direct my children and my household after me to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. (Genesis 18:19)
I will learn to fear You all the days I live on the earth and teach Your words to my children. (Deuteronomy 4:10)
I had a good time in Houston with my sister. She spoiled me taking me to Galveston, resteraunts, a beach front cottage on the gulf coast for a few days, etc.
Now I'm in Michigan enjoying cooler weather and beautiful fall leaf colours. I've been enjoying visiting friends and family.
Makes me think of the hymn "For The Beauty of the Earth."
For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.
For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light.