Friday, January 27, 2012

Why Do We Struggle? What is the purpose for pain?

Part of the struggle of going through a difficult situation is wondering why we have to go through it in the first place. When we get bad news, the world seems to crash around us, spinning and spinning, and then we inevitably ask...."Why God? Why is this happening to me? And how do I get through this?" Even though it is so hard to understand, pain is part of life, death is part of life, illness is part of life, and life just isn't always easy.

When we are struggling, we are supposed to reach out to God. Often that can be a far fetched idea because we are hurting, and we feel like we are being punished for something. This is a perfectly normal reaction. God is a loving God, He doesn't punish us. He never said in the bible that it would be easy once we became a Christian. In fact, it can be harder. God tells us we will have struggles (See my previous post here about that.) Living up to a Christ-like life is impossible, only Jesus was perfect, but we are to strive to be like Him. God knows we are human, and He knows we are going to make mistakes. He expects us to handle our mistakes as Jesus showed us. That is, by showing grace, asking for forgiveness, and loving others.

The bible answers the question "Why do we have struggles?"
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise to the God of All Comfort 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Right there, in written text, is the answer to why we struggle and why we have pain. So that we can be comforted by God, and then take what we learned from Him and comfort those who also suffer. Our end goal is to comfort others. Certainly when we have gone through a situation, and know someone else going through a similar situation, we can sympathize and empathize with them. It teaches us compassion, and opens our hearts to pour out God's love on others.

We can't do anything for anyone else unless we accept the first part of of the answer. We must first be comforted by God. He can't do anything unless we open our hearts to Him, unless we ask Him to come into our lives and comfort us. So pray for His comfort. When you are struggling, ask Him to help you, to bring you peace with the situation. Ask Him to wrap His loving arms around you and hold you tight, ask Him to put people in your life daily that can be his earthly angels and who can help you physically feel his comfort. Pray for God to give you the strength to get through your struggle. That doesn't mean you are praying for your own will, but that you are praying to be at peace with God's will in your situation. Once you have prayed these things, be patient and open your eyes and ears. You will start to see how God works in your life each day. Once you see Him, praise Him for the things He is doing. It is easy to pray for God's help when you are in the midst of a trial, but He wants us to pray to Him when everything is going well too. God works in our lives, not just when we are asking for help, but every day. Praise Him when things are going well, and you will continue to see the blessings each day.

Once you have felt God's comfort and love, you can begin to comfort others. This doesn't mean you are no longer grieving or hurting. Sometimes the healing of ourselves comes through helping others. Look back at what He did to comfort you, and do those things for others. Comforting others doesn't have to be anything big. Maybe just a card in the mail, an email, a phone call, a meal, a ride in your car, or running an errand for them can help bring comfort. One of the things that comforts me is when someone prays for me. Not just telling me you will pray for me, but actually praying for me. The prayer I have received has been both spoken and written. If you are uncomfortable praying aloud for someone, write a card or email with the prayer (it can be short) that you said for them. It is so comforting to know the prayers that are being said. Having said this, I am writing a prayer for you as your read this......

Dear Lord,
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you any time I want. Thank you for your written word that speaks to me and gives me so much hope. I lift up the person reading this right now. I pray that you would enter her/his heart and show her/him your love each day. I pray that you would bring peace and joy into her/his life. Lord, thank you for being such a loving God. I praise you for the life you have given us. Help us to make the most of this gift from you, and to learn from our struggles how we can help others. God, take away the hurt and the pain, and replace it with peace and comfort. Let your love shine through us.
In Jesus' name,

More prayers that I have posted before that you can pray for someone can be found here.

Paul prayed for the Ephesians in the bible, and it is a fantastic prayer to pray for someone who needs comfort.
Ephesians 3:14-21
New International Version (NIV)
A Prayer for the Ephesians 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

The relationship that comes out of leaning on God through our suffering is one that couldn't be formed unless the suffering was present. It's a relationship that is deep, deeper than any other. He knows everything you are feeling and thinking, and He loves you. The relationship continues to grow because suffering doesn't just end. It comes in waves and rears it's ugly head at the most inopportune times. It isn't easy to get through hard times, but with God you know that you have the most powerful being on your side, and that is comforting to me.