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Books

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ONE
Discovering Spiritual Meaning in Suffering

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Have you ever faltered in your faith during heartbreaking trials? You wondered if you could continue on your spiritual journey. Maybe you’ve walked away from your faith during trying times or wandered in a dry spiritual wasteland searching for God but not finding Him. Have you been spiritually disappointed with yourself—and God? You questioned if you’d ever find your way back to the Lord or if He would ever find you again.

A loss or series of losses can cause us to question our faith and feel overwhelming emotional and spiritual pain. We wonder if God even cares. We struggle with conflicts between what we expect from God and what we actually experience. During trials we don’t have the spiritual victory we hear about from books, messages, and the claims of other Christians.

We’re hounded by nagging guilt and even shame that our faith isn’t strong enough to hold up in suffering. We may struggle with anger, bitterness, depression, and fear.

We spiritually waver, wanting to hang onto our faith one moment, and the next we want to give up. We know we should trust the Lord and release our burdens into His care. But we can’t seem to do it, and we don’t understand why we just can’t get over our pain or why God doesn’t do something to relieve us.

If you relate to such spiritual struggles, join me and many other Christians. This search for meaning in suffering is a spiritual quest, a lifelong journey in a single direction to our heavenly destination. But if you’re like me, you feel lost at times. You feel as if you’re spiritually taking the long way around to get where you belong.


What makes our search so difficult and sometimes scary is that the road we travel on is perilous. Heartbreaking losses and trials block our pathway and test our faith. Some of us get stuck and can’t get past emotional and spiritual roadblocks.

This series of blogs was written to help us get over those obstacles and keep us moving forward spiritually. We’ll discover how to deal with many different kinds of major losses and trials we or loved ones experience. If you’re looking for easy spiritual answers or quick-fix solutions to suffering, you won’t find them here. But we’ll learn how to keep on our spiritual journey during trials and find the needed spiritual support to work through grief and pain.


In writing Discovering Spiritual Meaning in Suffering, I’ve used a wide variety of resources, including personal accounts of many women. They graciously shared their stories of loss and how their faith was challenged in suffering.

This study may not be what you need if you haven’t suffered a major loss. But it will help you understand what others are experiencing. It can help you learn how to be more compassionate and minister to those who are hurting.

Often we fail to realize the impact suffering has on our faith. The primary purpose of this study is take us through the entire grieving-healing process and the spiritual phases we go through in suffering. Those three phases include spiritual reaction, rebuilding, and renewal.

In the spiritual reaction phase, we can’t believe God has allowed us to experience this painful loss. In the spiritual rebuilding phase, we have moved beyond our initial spiritual shock and have started growing in our faith through grief and trials. The spiritual renewal phase brings us into a deeper relationship with our Comforter who is always with us to love and support us in our pain. The Gifts of Suffering help us to see that God uses our trials as a gift to others and to us.
Discovering Spiritual Meaning in Suffering will help us gain an understanding of the ways our faith is tested as we go through trials. We’ll discover how we can grow through grief and come out with a stronger faith. We’ll come to terms with the mysteries of suffering, find spiritual meaning, and see how God can turn our losses into a gift to other hurting people.

One of my concerns as you work through this healing process is the danger of being defeated by negative self-talk and shame-filled thoughts, such as: I shouldn’t be anxious. I shouldn’t hurt so much. I shouldn’t cry. I’m dumb or stupid for feeling this way.

Even the strongest Christians hurt, sin, and have spiritual conflicts. We’re all on this search for spiritual meaning, so keep reminding yourself that the Lord accepts you as you are and how you feel. He is always present with you to support you through this healing, spiritually renewing process. I pray you will become more accepting and gentle with yourself as you and the Lord work through this healing process.

Keeping your faith in suffering has great significance in the eyes of God and an unseen host of witnesses as well. Our losses can have personal and spiritual meaning, and our steadfast trust in the Lord counts for all eternity. I hope you will come to rely on the Lord’s ever-loving kindness. He is always with you no matter how dark and deep your heartaches. The Lord is kind. He loves you so much He desires to heal you of your hurts. He has promised, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness” (Jer. 31:3).
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 4:12-13 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed (NIV).”
Practicing the Spiritual Life



  • What trials have surprised you and made you think something unfair or unusual was happening to you?


Prayer

O my Hope, my Savior in times of distress, why are You like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who stays only a night? Why are You like a man taken by surprise, like a warrior powerless to save? You are with me, O Lord, and I bear Your name; do not forsake me! Now if I am Your child, then I am an heir— Your heir, O God, and co-heirs with You, Jesus, if indeed I share in Your sufferings in order that I may also share in Your glory. I consider that my present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in me. I glory in Your holy name; my heart seeks You, Lord, and rejoices. (Jer. 14:8-9; Rom. 8:17-18; Ps. 105:3, all paraphrased)

NEXT: Two, Storm-Tossed Faith

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