Years ago, when our family was at the mall, both of our girls used some of their money to purchase mood necklaces. They were enthralled with the way the plastic changed colors throughout our time at the mall. After a while, the novelty of the new purchase wore off and one child became obsessed with getting ice cream. We were on our way out of the mall, so the answer was, “No”, there would not be any ice cream that day.
Suddenly, everything around me stopped, while that child threw herself on the ground, screaming, crying, kicking, flailing about in displeasure.Everyone within earshot, stopped their shopping, their conversations, their leisurely afternoon, and watched our child show her extreme suffering in not getting any ice cream.
Our other daughter saw the opportunity, ran over to the angry animal on the ground and said, “Quick! Let’s check the color of her mood necklace!”
It’s so easy to see in children. The groaning, the loud breathing, the eye rolling. It always comes down to things not going their way.
And, then comes my way, the “adult way” of handling suffering when operating in my flesh. I assess the situation, looking at what needs to change. I think about what is wrong and what I can do about it. I have a quick reaction, lacking self-control. Or, I use resources like google to search for solutions. I immediately implement the solution. My hope is that I will change the outcome and avoid suffering. But, often, this method leads to failure or burnout.
The Bible teaches us about suffering:
Colossians 1:24-27, I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
John Courson tells us to teach our kids about suffering. He talks about suffering in a sermon from Colossians:
- Brings us closer to Christ: We can relate to God in a deeper way through our suffering. Where Was God in All of This–Part I
- Brings us assurance that we are saved/Godly: God in the Bible promises us that we will suffer if we are His.
- Rewards we are promised/the glory that will be ours: Heaven so far outweighs the trials we experience here on earth.
- Salvation of others: the world is watching when Christians face trials. When they see Christians holding onto their faith, still loving God, still finding peace in Him, they will be saved.
- Makes Satan mad: we can defeat Satan by allowing God to take what he meant for evil and turning it around for our good. Where Was God in All of This–Part II
The good news throughout suffering is that Christ is in me.
Colossians 1:27, To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
When I look at suffering differently, not just something I am trying to avoid, I experience true spiritual growth. When I am not receiving suffering with an impulsive reaction or like a problem I can google to solve, I am instead allowing the Master Problem Solver to do His work. I am not facing suffering alone. Because I am a follower of Jesus, He lives in me, and I am equipped with His power and wisdom. And, the more I suffer, the more I find myself allowing more of Christ in to heal, restore and build up. This is why I rejoice in my suffering.