Tag Archives: Suffering

Our Special Purpose

Carl pranced out of the house while the door shut in Bee’s face as we left on our three mile walk. No longer does Bee take the walks around the neighborhood. Instead, she is left alone while Carl gets to strut himself out in public.

From Bee’s standpoint, life is not fair. Questions of why float around in her mind as she lays on the porch waiting for everyone to return. Bitterness and resentment would be natural tendencies if she was a human.

How often in life do we become swallowed up with anger when we observe the success of others? We work so hard but the fruit we expect never comes. Joseph must have felt anger when he was stuck in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. He probably spent many nights asking God for answers when the jail doors slammed in front of him while others walked out and forgot him.

Years passed and then one day, he was called by Pharaoh to interpret a dream. A dream that Pharaoh had struggled with and demanded someone to interpret. Once Joseph stood in front of Pharaoh, he clearly told him that interpretations are from God.

Once the dream was interpreted, Pharaoh knew that Joseph was the only one that could lead the nation out of the famine that would occur.

All the years that he had been in jail were for a reason. God had been preparing Joseph for this role by allowing him to suffer and live through difficult times. And just as God instigated the trials for Joseph, He can be doing the same thing for all of us.

Bee is not being intentionally left behind because we don’t want her to come. Her airway was not created like Carl’s. His snout is a little longer which allows him to endure long walks in warm seasons. A couple of months ago, we thought Bee might not live after a long walk down the trail. We love her too much to take chances with her life. In the same manner, God who is all knowing, may allow suffering because He has a special purpose designed just for us.

God’s Timing

It only took months but he finally got it. After countless nights, Carl figured out a way to keep himself safe from his sister’s wrath. It was as simple as timing. He figured out that if he came into the bedroom before Bee, he could race across the room, jump onto his chair, and snuggle deep into his cushion.  Then when she finally appears, he would be safe from the horrors of her domination.

Timing is a significant variable in our lives. After being married for over three decades, I have come to realize that the time I share unpleasant information with my husband can be the most important variable on how he will receive it.  Early on in my marriage, I would blurt out whatever was on my mind the second he walked in the door. It took a while but I finally realized that this wasn’t helping anyone.

So now, I hold my tongue until he has had time to relax a few minutes, get some food in his stomach and unwind from work. Timing is a factor that we should never take for granted, particularly when we are praying to God. God knows when it is best to answer our prayers.

We all want our prayers answered immediately, particularly if there is suffering involved. We don’t want to wait and hold on to the ordeal that life can throw at us. The Israelites felt this way when the Babylonians had taken them captive. For seventy years they were tortured and exposed to horrors that were unbearable.

So where was God? Why would He allow his people to experience such suffering? God had spoken through Jeremiah years before and pleaded for his people to repent and return into a relationship with Him. He had even shared with Jeremiah how long these people would be in bondage.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

I know this verse specifically pertains to the Israelites but I do believe that God has plans for each of us. And in these plans He has a specific timeline for all the details of our lives. So when I experience suffering and want God to fix it now, I must trust in His perfect timing.

Carl’s inability to understand the importance of timing is a reminder to me that I don’t understand many of the lessons that God tries to teach me. As he learns the benefit of getting into his bed before his sister comes into the room, I need to look into my own life and trust God with the details.

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Carl was afraid to come out of the shower.

Suspended

When I was a little girl, I lived across the street from a park that had been created on a hilly incline with trees towering over and a creek slithering through it. There were shelters made out of boulders that smelled like charcoal from many a cookout. The rustic park also held all the traditional play equipment such as a see saw, sand box, and slide. These outdoor play structures would hold my attention for a couple of minutes but I would always gravitate to the swings.

These swings were not the ordinary ones you find today with all the protective seating and safety flooring to protect against falls. No these swings were set on top of the hill and had an extra high suspension bar. So when you got on and pumped a couple of times you were immediately taken out over the hilly incline where falling off would surely mean at least a bruised knee or sprained ankle.

It was on these swings that I spent many an afternoon contemplating about life, suspended between my real world, with all its problems to my carefree imaginary one. Each time I would lean back and pump my legs, I would be left drifting in space, with the worries of the day crumbling underneath me.

Oh to be young again and have an imagination that could lift me out of the day to day reality of life. Oh but I have something so much greater! Paul writes in Philippians 4:4-7 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the PEACE of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I am forever thankful that God has given us all a way to have peace in our minds and our hearts. But just for the fun of it, I think I will return to the park on the hill, locate my favorite swing, and enjoy the ride.

The Gift of Suffering

A talented young man left home to seek out his fortune.  Before leaving, his wise old grandfather gave him a gift.  When the young man looked inside the wrapped package he pushed it away and left.

As he traveled in pursuit of his dreams, he realized that something was missing from his life and wondered about the gift.  So he went back home to discover the unwrapped box waiting for him.

When he tried to pick it up, he realized it was too heavy and needed to ask a friend to help him carry the weighted box.  The two were able to place it on their shoulders and slowly walk out into the world.

Before long, they could be seen working together balancing the box and asking others to help them with their heavy load. As each new person was added, the load became lighter and life began to take on new meaning.

One day, a beautiful woman spotted the young man and his friends and asked if she could help carry the box. The young man looked at her with love in his eyes and joyfully agreed.

Life was good until one day the box got stuck in a crevice and wouldn’t come out. The young man tried with all his might to retrieve the box but it wouldn’t budge.

He refused the help of his friends and slowly they left him alone with the stuck box and his feelings of failure. When the woman approached him, he turned towards the box and she reluctantly walked away.

For many days, you could see the young man, with tears in his eyes, trying to pull the box from the crevice.

As if his grandfather knew he would come to this place in the road, he appeared by his side.  The young man asked his grandfather why this was happening to him. The wise old man turned to him with compassion and stated,  “ Our sufferings are a gift that we are given to share with others. If we try and carry them by ourselves, we will never see the hidden treasures of this life.”