Choosing to praise

Recently I have been faced with several circumstances I can not understand.

I have seen loved ones act in ways I cannot comprehend.

I have prayed with people more broken than I would think possible.

I have hugged friends who want to die, and friends who have suffered great injustices and depression.

As a Pastor I am faced with pain and suffering almost daily.

I have sat and prayed with people who have lost babies, people who have been raped, people who have been abandoned and abused.

Lately I seem to be overwhelmed by people in need, people who are suffering. From dear friends to those I hardly know.

We all suffer to some degree, either personally or through the suffering of those we love.

When faced with suffering I believe we have two options.

1. We can look down-
To the things of the earth, ourselves, our “friends”, substances such as drugs and alcohol, distractions and escapism through movies and online communities etc.

OR

2. We can look up-
To a God who, even though we don’t always understand Him, is on the throne, sovereign and in control. We can choose to praise Him, to read the Word, to seek Gods heart and to learn something of how He breaks for those who are broken. We can listen to worship music and seek The presence of the comforter (Holy Spirit) etc.

I often say to people faced with suffering who just want to give up or give in, “Don’t blame God, He is the one who wants to give you life, blame the devil, he is the one who is trying to destroy you (John 10:10″). By giving up or giving in you are simply handing the author of pain and suffering a double victory!”

I think of running to the enemy instead of to God a bit like this, It’s like getting robbed by a thief, then installing an alarm system, then running to the thief and handing him the codes to your alarms, it makes no sense!”

The devils temptation and our response to it in the garden of Eden caused the sin and suffering, Jesus died on the cross to defeat what happened in Eden, yet for some reason some people choose to run back to the devil instead of the cross…

A friend of mine said to me in a recent time of prayer- I have sinned so badly, I deserve to die- I just have to die.

My answer was, “Yes you do deserve to die, all sinners deserve to die, that’s the penalty for sin, BUT by God’s grace you don’t have to die, because Jesus already did that for you. There is no point in you dying when He already did, look to Him, give it to Him, and you can live!”

We can choose to die, to wallow in our suffering, or to live- despite our suffering, our pain and the circumstances in our life.

When Saul in 1 Samuel 16 was tormented by a Spirit it was only the music of David (who is said to have had the Lord with Him and to be a friend of God) that soothed Him and removed His torment.

It could be drawn from this passage (although not implicitly stated) that when he was faced with suffering, it was the presence of The Lord that soothed his pain and removed his suffering.

When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane praying before He was to be crucified He seemed to feel the weight of the coming days so much that He sweated blood as he cried out to God.

However, He decided to keep His eyes on God, although He could have called angels to rescue Him, and He went through great suffering to free us from eternal suffering!

Push through the pain, keep your eyes on your Father, you never know how your tears and blood may be used by God to set people free from their own suffering.

Choose to praise Him in your suffering. It does wonders for your faith and leaves no room for the enemy to bring in bitterness towards or distrust of God.

It’s often times of suffering that teach us the most, and also where we most grow. Choose to praise Him in the midst of your storm, because by His grace, you can get to the other side.

Psalm 126:5

Andrew

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