Too Much Suffering, Not Enough Fluff (about suffering and about acceptance)

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"Your greatest ministry will likely come from your deepest pain." Rick Warren (Image from iStock)

“Your greatest ministry will likely come from your deepest pain.” Rick Warren
(Image from iStock)

“God is more concerned about our spirituality than our comfort” came to mind during Sunday’s message about the purpose of our struggles. At first, I wasn’t anymore thrilled about the sermon than I had been the quote. After all, I just want to be happy.

I contemplated only writing light-hearted, fluffy posts. You know, so I’d be known as the happy-go-lucky blogger, but, then, I didn’t have much to say about that.

Next, I contemplated asking for prayer so I’d be more happy-go-lucky, but God didn’t have much to say about that.

Finally, I contemplated what God did have to say and it wasn’t about happy-go-lucky, although I’m sure he has nothing against our happiness. It’s just that, from what I keep hearing, our priorities are often times not his priorities.

The sermon and the quote offered insight into our suffering and an explanation as to why we don’t need to run from it or pray it away, even though I continue to try both. We’re supposed to be changed by it.

God’s obvious concern about my changing over the past nine years has left me wondering if he had concerns for anyone else’s spirituality, but of course he does. He has big plans for us all, even though I’ve been focused on the pain that I equate with God’s punishment. Painful events have led to painful thinking.

Suffering, however, is not about punishment, although it is sometimes a consequence as the result of our behavior. Suffering is a mirror into which we catch a glimpse of what’s inside of us. No, Facebook doesn’t cut it.

Suffering is for our own good and for a higher purpose. Our time here is designed to help us stop edging God out (ego) and, instead, start edifying him. Unfortunately, most of us are hard headed and some of us are hard hearted.

What gushes out during the tough times is what’s been inside all along. Usually it’s a combination of love and fear, grace and griping, humility and entitlement, meaning we all need the changing power of suffering.

What are you suffering through? How is it changing you?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Here’s to graciously walking through our suffering and being changed from fluffy-seeking to faith-finding.

On the side: Beth Vogt also wrote a blog post this week about suffering. Click here to read In Others’ Words: Wrestling Match.

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15 responses »

  1. Your opening line is spot on, although I don’t like it. 🙂 I wish He was more concerned with my comfort at times, after all, we all love our comfort, right? Rick Warren’s quote was spot on as well. Thanks for sharing this Miss Kimmy! -Beth

    • Beth, I don’t like it either, but that hasn’t changed God’s mind so far. Still working on it. 🙂 Seriously, I’m working on acceptance these days. Thanks for stopping by. Love you, my friend.

  2. I’m not sure that God ‘uses’ suffering; rather, I think that He stands ready to support and comfort us, and provides the ‘ambiance’ by which we can see the opportunities for growth that some – not all – suffering carries with it.

    I’m dealing with completely intractable abdominal and chest pain from pancreatic involvement that is likely – according to the doctors – to kill me. It will get a lot worse, first. (It came from a botched gallbladder operation.)

    It certainly raised my compassion, and made me more cognizant of the plight of those who are deliberately constrained to endure pain by their own families or governments. This is a good bit of knowing, and I’m grateful for it.

    Beyond this…there’s a point of diminishing returns, when simply enduring the day and night become the object of one’s life, and both abstract and practical theologizing become redundant.

    I’m trained to deal with pain and keep functioning (cf. “BuUD/S”, and “Hell Week”). I cannot imagine how most of the people I know would cope.

    I do know this. I am not alone, and I know that what I endure on a daily basis grieves God more than it does me. To create an internally consistent world that allows free will, He had to allow my condition.

    I believe that He hates it more than I do, and that in the still and painful watches of the night, He whispers the encouragement that allows me to face the dawn.

  3. Kim, loved this post! Don’t you dare ever go ‘light and fluffy’ on me! 🙂

    We need to talk more about suffering in our lives, and the fact that God is not actually that concerned with our happiness. He is, however, concerned with our joy and us finding our fulfilment and sufficiency in Him.

    Andrew, maybe ‘uses’ isn’t the right word. Maybe it’s more that He doesn’t waste it. And I agree, I think He feels all our pain – physical and emotional – more than we do. You are in my prayers often, my friend.

    • Susannah, as long as I’m blogging, there’s little chance I’m going to the light-hearted side. I guess there’s plenty of humor intertwined with pain that I don’t have to set out to write funny. i’ve wised up since 2005 and know that happiness is not the same as JOY. I love that word. And I love you and your comments. Thank you.

      Oh, and I appreciate what you wrote to Andrew, especially “Maybe it’s more that He doesn’t waste it.”

  4. Kim,

    I used to think that God prepared a place for us in Heaven to suit our desires and to make us eternally happy.

    Now I understand that we were created for His purpose. We are like a tile in a Mosaic that adds to the color scheme or design.

    In order for us to fulfill that purpose God must help us conform.
    Sometimes we need to be cut down in size (Ego) or our rough edges sand papered due to our iniquities.

    Consider suffering one way He molds and sculpts us to fulfill our place in the Grand Scheme.

    If we will not allow Him to do so, we will have no place in Heaven.

    We do have a free will and with that free will comes pain. If there were no pain there would be no free will. We might be like the animals with our destinies already in place.

    I recommend C S Lewis book “The problem of Pain” for further insight into this subject. The Horry Library has it in book and audio format.

    • Hi, Bob. I sure relate to “God must help us conform.” He has to work more diligently with some of us, if you know what I mean. 🙂

      I read “The Problem of Pain” a number of years ago, but I don’t remember much about it. I’m not sure I was ready to hear it then, so maybe it’s time to reread. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your wisdom. Love to you and Agnes.

      • St Augustine gives a major clue to what real happiness is.

        “In contrast to God, he muses, what is man? Yet there is a connection between the two. Humans, such a small part of creation and short-lived as they are, still find a need to praise God. In spite of sin, each feels the longing to reach out to his Creator. Why is this? He realizes it is the doing of God. “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”

        “That line summarizes the theme of Augustine’s life and will not be bettered in all the writings that lie ahead of him, in which he will wrestle with the deepest issues of theology.” Dan Graves

        If we humans were an engine made by God that runs only on God Himself, no other fuel would suffice. When we try to run on our stuff the engine puffs and cranks sputtering along. Perhaps we do not need to fix the engine, just use the “fuel” it was made to run on.
        Bob

        (Kim see what you started with this blog post. We are discussing the reality of life. Who needs fluff anyway?)

  5. This is the best post you’ve written. I want to tweet so many good and wise sentences. Your humor shone through in just the right amount and places, and I love that, but what I really loved was the deep wisdom. It felt like I’m meeting the real Kim Henson for the first time. And maybe she is too.

    • Maybe “she” is, Andy. 🙂 I’ve certainly fought with self-doubt, fears, and inadequacies during this season of my writing. so maybe something’s come of that. I so appreciate your encouragement. You’re a dear friend. Wish we lived closer.

  6. I don’t feel I’m suffering, but I do feel God is preparing me for something I may not want to do. I’ve done a few things this year that are out of my comfort zone, and I know I didn’t decide to do them on my own accord. I am so guilty of “edging God out” = “ego”… well said, Kim!

    • Natine, I’d love to hear more about what’s happening with you. I love when God asks you and others to do what you don’t want to do. Typically this means something adventuresome and life-changing is ahead. As for me, I’ll just enjoy your changes. 🙂

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