Sunday, February 10, 2008

Through Suffering...

In the WORLD:
~820 million people on earth go to bed hungry every night. That number doesn't get smaller--it grows by four million every year.
~200 million children are homeless.
~143 million are orphans.
~Every six seconds, someone is infected with HIV. Every five more, someone will lose their battle with it.
~Every other second, an unborn baby is legally terminated. No one knows how many die illegally.
~2 million children have been sold into sexual slavery, while 250,000 children are enslaved as child soldiers on real battlefields.
~37 million live in poverty, choosing between turning on their heater or feeding their children.
~7.5 percent of young girls starve themselves because they believe they're too ugly to eat.
~17,000 people are killed in drunk driving accidents every year.
~17,000 children are injured in school bus accidents every year.
~1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. For men, it's 1 in 6.
~43,000 of mothers, sisters, and daughters will die from breast cancer.
~1 out of every 2 marriages will come to a bitter end.

The fact is, suffering will always be with us. It's an inescapable reality that comes with living on this planet. Bad things will happen, and we will do what we can to prevent them. But not all bad things come as a result of sin in our lives, and finding yourself in the middle of suffering without explanation is one of the loneliest places imaginable.
God doesn't punish or discipline us for anything that we do wrong. He is actually reshaping and molding us to become more reliant on Him--to trust Him more. God's hand is always at work with plans and purposes far beyond our understanding; who are we to question Him?

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. -James 1:2-4

Living in this world ensures hardship. We will be forced to ask the question "why?" This is a question that is almost impossible to put to the side in the midst of our pain. But the simple answer is that we live in a broken world--the land of the dying. Suffering reminds us of just how fallen this world is. That this is not our home. It instills in us a longing for Heaven. A longing for a place where there will be no tears, no hunger, no homeless children. It also draws us near to God. It begs for us to lean on Him in times of instability.
Take a look at your life. Maybe you lost something great, but you gained a new reliance on God. And in that moment, His glory was revealed by being your anchor in that storm.
[from Glory Revealed, David Nasser]
I've dealt with a lot of suffering and pain throughout my life, I can personally testify that suffering and hardship is a way through which God taught me to desperately long for Him and to depend fully on Him and His ways. I needed to be reminded of how much I truly needed Him. God needed me to need Him more, and He had to strip everything away from me that I called mine to get me there. This life is His, not mine.

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