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Suffering (Perspective)

“We must not be distressed by anything that happens to us, even if it affects our present weaknesses. For although we don’t know why everything that happens to us is sent by God as a blessing, we should be convinced that everything that happens to us is for our good.” (St. Basil the Great)

“A continuously happy life produces extremely unhappy consequences. In nature we see that there are not always pleasant springs and fruitful summers, and sometimes autumn is rainy and winter cold and snowy, and there is flooding and wind and storms, and moreover the crops fail and there are famine, troubles, sicknesses and many other misfortunes. All of this is beneficial so that man might learn through prudence, patience and humility. For the most part, in times of plenty he forgets himself, but in times of various sorrows he becomes more attentive to his salvation.” (St. Ambrose of Optina)

“Without a doubt the Lord tests His sons and daughters. He places hard facts and words before us. He shows us the probable outcomes and consequences of our actions. Why? So that we will weep, repent, and change our ways. Terrible diagnoses are declared. Inevitable death looms. Do we rage and rail against the Lord – or do we turn our face to the wall, praying and weeping, confessing our sins, acknowledging that our frail existence is ever dependent on God? In this life even death’s power is limited.” (Dynamis 4/8/2019)

“To have faith in Christ means…we should bear all our daily trials that may bring us sorrow, distress, or unhappiness, and bear them patiently for as long as God wishes and until He comes to visit us. For it is said, ‘I waited on the Lord and He came to me.” (St. Symeon the New Theologian)

“The delay in seeing our prayer requests fulfilled, in having our questions answered, is yet another point on which our life of prayer is tested. It is neither a matter of God not hearing our prayers nor of His being indifferent to our suffering. God does not want us to be troubled and tormented, but to be in constant communion with Him with our fervent prayers, which should increase if not immediately answered. We should thank God whether He gives us what we ask for or not, since in either case He is acting for our own good. We should not be discouraged and disillusioned when we do not receive what we ask for in prayer. God may be testing our persistence. Let us not tire easily.” (Monk Moses)

“Suffering is universal. However, Christian believers do have a unique perspective on the meaning of suffering. We begin with the claim that for the believer, suffering has meaning. It depends on how we perceive the suffering. How we deal with suffering makes all the difference.” (Albert S. Rossi)

“Suffering, as we will see, can lead to personal growth, training, and transformation, but we must never see it as primarily a way to improve ourselves. That view could lead us to a form of masochism, an enjoyment of ache, because we only feel virtuous when we are in pain. Even without such perspective, suffering tends to make you self-absorbed. If it is seen as mainly about you and your own growth, it will strangle you truly. Instead, we must look at suffering—whatever the proximate causes—as primarily a way to know God better, as an opening for serving, resembling, and drawing near to Him as never before.” (Pastor Timothy Keller)

“Paradoxically, it is oftentimes in the experience of pain and suffering that we are most prepared to bear an abundant harvest of spiritual fruit. Good times tend to make us complacent and self-satisfied. Sorrow, tribulation, ill health, and disappointment, however, have a way of stimulating us to re-order our priorities and help us to gain perspective and maturity. I have found that it is through my own personal suffering that I have gained my greatest compassion and understanding for others.” (Rev. Andrew J. Demotses)

“God is never out to break us or shatter us. He knows our frame and will not overload us in times of stress. Rather, He seeks to use our stressful times as cleverly disguised opportunities for us to gain His perspective, lean on His strength, and develop steadfastness with which we can run life's course. God may not change the circumstance that is pressing so grievously on you. He may not remove that person who vexes you so greatly. He may not heal that affliction that daily grates away at your body and soul. But He will dramatically alter your own emotions and responses as you turn to Him instead of running or exploding.” (Charles F. Stanley)

“There is a scene in the book of Genesis in which the Patriarch Jacob cries out that everything is against him (Genesis 42:36). What he did not realize until later, at that very moment he was in despair, events were in motion that would reunite him with his beloved son Joseph who had been missing for years. He momentarily lost his trust and did not keep his perspective he had learned through faith that God was always looking out for him.” (Sacramental Living)

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