* When we suffer it brings out more of a desire for control and approval. Boy have I seen this in my life recently! Especially the need for control---wanting to somehow control what will happen to Anna. I have also wanted approval in the sense that I have not wanted people to feel sorry for us or feel badly for us. I don't feel sorry for myself or Anna so I am easily frustrated when I sense that in others----oh, how pride rears its ugly head, right?
* We need to have THANKFULNESS in the midst of suffering. (I read in the forward of a book recently, Choosing Gratitude, where Joni Erickson Tada was actually THANKFUL for being a quadriplegic. She says this, "Maybe this wheelchair felt like a horrible tragedy in the beginning, but I give thanks in my wheelchair...I'm grateful for my quadriplegia. It's a bruising of a blessing. A gift wrapped in black. It's a shadowy companion that walks with me daily, pulling and pushing me into the arms of my Savior. And thats where the joy is.) Hmmmm, good words. If Anna is born with a disability of any kind none of us needs to feel sorry for her. It will be a gift from our Heavenly Father designed to point her and others to our desperate need of Him. She won't be missing out on anything that God hasn't designed that she have or experience. Feeling sorry for her will be saying that God somehow messed up. That is not an option. My God doesn't mess up.
* Our suffering makes us dwell on our life in the resurrected Christ. Oh how my thoughts can lose their eternal perspective! But when I remember that JESUS is the resurrection and the LIFE. When I remember I was dead in my transgressions before Him. When I remember all the riches I have gained in being welcomed into the family of God. All of this makes the things of this world pale and become rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus. Praise God that He allows suffering! I think if not for hardships my heart really wouldn't understand the surpassing worth of knowing Christ.
* We need to meditate on the results of suffering and NOT on the reasons for suffering. I have noticed that we so often try to figure out why we are going through a particular trial. I think I can sum that up really nicely...to yield results that are for our eternal good, our eternal joy, our eternal peace. There is really no good accomplished or peace given when we try to figure out why. But there is such hope found in just simply accepting that a Loving Heavenly Father is guiding our lives, the peaks and the valleys, and we can trust Him implicitly.
* Our suffering is being lead by Christ for a purpose---for the glory and honor of God. And we are most satisfied when God is most glorified!
* In suffering we feel like we are losing a battle of sorts. But we have VICTORY in Jesus! He uses our suffering for our good. He uses it to glorify God. Thus, we can be thankful for our suffering.
* We are the aroma of Christ in our sufferings. Suffering unifies us with Christ, the man of suffering. Just as the aroma of the old testament sacrifices were pleasing to God, and the aroma of Christ's final sacrifice was a pleasing aroma to God as a just payment for our sin, our suffering will be pleasing to God as He performs His good work in our lives through it. God also uses our sufferings to be the aroma of Him to a lost and dying world.
2 Cor. 2:14-16 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.* As we die to our flesh in our suffering, it links us to the resurrection of Christ as well! Christ is victorious over sin and death and suffering. All of it bows to accomplish His divine purpose!
* Don't nourish unbelief in our suffering. Think on what is TRUE. *
2 Cor. 1:9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.*2 Cor. 12:9-10 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient in you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
* This last verse was really encouraging to me in my quiet time yesterday. I am SO thankful that God ALWAYS has a purpose for what he does even when we don't understand it. I was reading the story of when Lazarus dies and this is what Jesus says when He hears the news:
John 11:4 But when Jesus heard it he said, "This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God maybe glorified through it.*And lastly, we sang the song, Shine Into Our Night in church today. I loved these words:
Jesus Christ, shine into our night, bind us to the cross, where we find life