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Suffering (Finding God Within It)

“I was shocked by my suffering, because I hadn’t reckoned with the real fallenness of the world, and I wonder if my shock is a common one in the modern Christian world. I think we God lovers are often bewildered by personal disaster, troubled by the reality that being saved doesn’t mean we’ll never suffer. We haven’t really come to terms with the fact that the first part of our story is a tragedy. It doesn’t jive with the missional excitement of God’s “good news,” with our marketer’s promise of blessing to those who accept God’s love. It doesn’t fit the progressive narratives of science and technology that so often get tangled up in our spirituality. It doesn’t work within our arithmetical idea of obedience: if I’m good, God will bless me. We forget what it means for the world to be fallen and for us to be profoundly frail, and when suffering comes upon us—and oh, it does, to godly souls and innocent children, the evil and the good alike—we are outraged and bewildered. We stand in danger of abandoning the very faith whose power is based on divine love overcoming death, because we didn’t think we really had to die in the first place.” (Sarah Clarkson)

“When a serious crisis arises, we outwardly—or at least inwardly—argue, bargain, express our feelings of abandonment, and become angry or hurt that God is allowing this to happen.…Expressing anguish, disillusionment and near despair with a deeply felt desire for a return of what we have lost or a return to a pre-crisis state is natural. I feel, as many others do, that expressing initial strong negative reactions to God during difficult times is not a problem in itself. As a matter of fact, it may be one of the signs of a faith that is real and based on an ongoing relationship with the living God. The difficulty arises when we don’t move beyond anger and disillusionment with God in order to be open to the possibilities of encountering God in surprising and mysterious ways. The greatest challenge in times of crisis and loss is to be willing to be open to receive love in new ways, possibly from different sources at unexpected times.” (Robert J. Wicks)

“…don’t dishonor the nobility of your own suffering–even if it looks like your life is a disaster, a hell, a void of meaninglessness, a failure to achieve anything. Forget it. Believe me, that is all to your glory, and in time this will be revealed.” (Timothy G. Patitsas)

“Suffering, our own and that of others, is an experience through which we have to live, not a theoretical problem that we can explain away. If there is an explanation, it is on a level deeper than words. Suffering cannot be “justified,” but it can be used, accepted—and, through this acceptance, transfigured. ‘The paradox of suffering and evil is resolved in the experience of compassion and love.’ ” (Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, Nicolas Berdyae)

“If any one of us were to redesign reality we would not include suffering. Unfortunately, it is here to stay so what do we do with it? Most of us at one time have tried to deny it, avoid it, suppress it, and ease it through the wrong means and found this just makes it worse. We are left with the reality that we have to face it head-on and work our way through it. But we don’t have to do it alone though pride often leads us down this road first. Eventually, suffering brings many of to us to Christ and the Holy Spirit the great Comforter. Once we are broken enough, it also leads us to a deeper relationship with others and the strength and growth of shared suffering and shared comforting. That’s when real growth and movement to becoming a fuller human being begins.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“God is concerned about every affliction we endure…Unquestionably, there is great loneliness in pain and affliction. A wall rears up around those held in the clutches of suffering. The Lord Himself tasted this isolation, as He asked His beloved Peter, “Could you not watch one hour?” (Mk 14:37). And Job, like the Lord, knew that whatever befell him, the hand of God was upon the events. He knew that God cared about his affairs and had not cast him aside. “The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). There is no suffering that any of us endure from which God stands apart, for our God and Savior, Jesus Himself, tasted great pain as a flesh and blood man in His Passion for our Salvation.” (Dynamis 4/8/2019, 7/31/2019)

“…God is aware of all suffering…God knows everything about believers, especially their suffering, and that He listens and responds to their cries for help (Heb. 4:12–16)…Sometimes God allows us to go through times when we have no one at our right hand, “no one cares,” just so that we will be very aware of our need for God.” (Foundation Study Bible, Luke 6:22,1 Peter 3:12, Psalms 142:5)

“The pain and suffering, we experience are unique to our own person, and so are the myriad lessons they teach us. Out of their depths, however, come common treasures which can strengthen our character, sharpen our understanding, and order our priorities aright. For each of us, therefore, no suffering is without purpose. God allows us the experience of suffering in the hope that we will then share with others what we have learned, and become a source of blessing and help to them. Let us be open to God's comfort so that in the good time of his choosing, He can then comfort still others through each of us.” (Rev. Andrew Demotses)

“When we choose to see God at work in our suffering, we can make our suffering meaningful for others in addition to ourselves by replacing self-pity with deeds of love, forgiveness, and mercy.” (Bishop John Michael Botean)

“In the Crucified Christ, God does not remain a distant spectator of the undeserving suffering of the innocent but He participates in their suffering through the Cross and plants hope in the life of all afflicted persons through the Resurrection. When faced with the mystery of evil and suffering, the story of Jesus as the story of God is the only adequate response. The human quest for meaning and hope in tragic situations of affliction, draw from Christ’s death and Resurrection the power of life needed for sustenance. Thus, as Christians we do not argue against suffering, but tell a story.” (Fr. Emmanuel Clapsis)

“The next time you are called to suffer, pay attention. It may be the closest you’ll ever get to God.” (Max Lucado)

“Growing up, I begged God (what seems like thousands of times) to take the cup of suffering from me, but mostly he didn’t. Instead, he used my pain and difficulties, my desert experiences, to transform me—which in turn alleviated much suffering. As I grew up in the desert, God grew my soul. And although I realize that the suffering I’ve endured is nothing compared to the suffering of countless millions, I’ve learned painful but essential lessons that I couldn’t have learned anywhere else but in the midst of God-haunted suffering.” (Marlena Graves)

“When conversion does take place, the process of revelation occurs in a very simple way; a person is in need, he suffers, and then somehow the other world opens up. The more you are in suffering and difficulties and are desperate for God, the more He is going to come to your aid, reveal who He is, and show you the way to get out…In suffering, something goes on which helps the heart to receive God’s revelation." (Fr. Seraphim Rose)

"For in Job, we see a man undergo the worst suffering imaginable. He loses his children, his wealthy estate, and even his physical health. Yet, in the end, he is blessed beyond comprehension, far more than he was prior to his sufferings, and he knows God on a more intimate level. Job was not given an answer to his sufferings, he was given a person, God Himself." (Jeffrey L. Morrow)

“Paul sees that even his sufferings are a part of his apostolic work. His tribulations are for you, that is, for the Church, for us. So our sufferings can be for others.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Ephesians 3:13)

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