I've been readings "The Promise" by Fr. Jonathan Morris. He has challenged me, not with I did not know, but rather to practice what I already knew. The social world view tells us we should always be happy, we should not be suffering, and if we are unhappy in life and/or suffering, it must be something we are doing to cause our suffering and/or something we are not doing to alleviate our suffering. Our suffering is our own fault, stemming from our personal inadequacies.
Sure, some of our suffering is a result of our choices and believe systems. We need to evaluate these and begin to making the changes we can to decrease suffering and to improve the quality of our lives. But isn't suffering, aren't challenges, part of our existence? Is not suffering part of our life? Suffering and Challenges can be our most difficult teachers in our school of life. God tells us not to be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:6), that we can do all things through him who strengthens us (4:13). Like many, I have had my times when I think, "yeah, sure, that sounds good and all, but wait a minute, I'm living this suffering, I didn't ask for these challenges, how is that supposed to help me?"
In my journey, I have discovered the need for submission to a God I don't always understand but a God who has never left me hanging, even when I left Him hanging. I am not sure of my future at this point in my life, and this causes me worry (when I lose focus) and challenges me to explore His direction in my "now", not allowing my head to journey into the "if's". I have discovered that with every challenge, every fear, and every worry and every suffering moment, there also remains success, confidence, faith, joy and the understanding of what is mine and what is God's. I must remember, even thought I might be afflicted in this moment, I am not crushed; I might be perplexed and confused, but I am not to be driven into despair; I might be persecuted and misunderstood, but I am not forsaken; I might be struck down, but I am not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). God is a God of mercy and His love will surely find me.
The challenges in life will continue to be overwhelming until I take the time to look on the other side. To do this, I have to flip the coin. I have to seek out help from God and help from others. I cannot hole up in a pit of despair, alone and isolated. I must reach out to others who are walking along the journey of life. We are all walking this journey together. At times I will be pulled up the mountain of challenges and suffering, and at other times, I will help pull others up the same mountain. I must remember the thoughts of Fr. Jonathan, suffering is part of life and I will honor it as a teacher of growth and connection to my God, who will never forsake me. Reach out today, whether it is for your help or to help another up those mountains of life.
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