When there’s no light at the end of the tunnel

How long is a little while?

The struggles in life has a way of making you feel there is no end to the tunnel.  Darkness seems to cover you like a blanket with no sign of a light.

lightendoftunnel

Unashamedly I admit, over the last fifteen years I asked consistently, “Lord, how long is the pain of betrayal, broken relationships, grief from the loss of loved ones and possessions going to last?  When will the struggles end?” Needless to say, He did not give me a specific timeframe.  Instead, He always reminded me of His Word.   After a while, I stop asking how long and started rehearsing the promises He had given me.  My attitude changed. The more I meditated and spoke aloud His Word over my life and situations, the more my anxiety was replaced by God’s peace.  Still there were nights I cried myself to sleep, but I never stopped rehearsing the promises. I held on to them regardless of what I felt, saw and experienced. I believed God!

Like me, have you looked for the light at the end of the tunnel and wondered how long your troubles would last?

Just know you are not alone while traveling through your tunnel a little while longer.

I posted the following status to my Facebook page earlier this week.   Reading it again the next day or so was like getting a burst of energy from an energy drink.

Your suffering is temporary. Go through the “making” process.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10 NIV.

During the time Peter wrote to the Christians, persecution was not just confined to the churches in Asia Minor. Christians were suffering from intense persecution almost everywhere in the known world of that day because they were preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. Peter wrote to remind and console them and us too.  He was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write and encourage them to emulate those who had successfully gone through the test of suffering.  It is important and beneficial to surround yourself with people who have successfully endured some dark days of suffering and can offer you the encouragement you need to stand firm and not give up.

Suffering on this earth—although it appears to be endless—is temporary.  It is much easier to focus on the uncertainty of the length of time we will suffer.  Only God knows the duration of our sufferings.  He sovereignly defines the ‘little while’.  No one’s time of suffering is the same.  Remember Job? He suffered the loss of all things, including his health.  Through it all, he held on even enduring the criticisms and misunderstandings of his friends.

Your suffering is temporary. God through the “making” process.

The duration of your pain will be different from others, but the focal point should not be the time frame.  Focus on the promised outcome after the set time (little while) of suffering is completed.  After you have suffered a little while, here are four (4) things the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself do:

  •  Restore you.  Whatever is broken or missing, He will mend and repair so that you are complete. However long you suffered, afterwards you will be restored.  Your restoration may be physically or spiritually.
  •  Establish you. Suffering affects our mental health; our thoughts are usually focused on our condition and circumstances.  It’s easy for spirits of depression and oppression to control our thinking. God will make you stable in your mind; you will need mental stability. He will make you strong in mind. A strong and stable mindset is essential to your well-being physically, emotionally and spiritually.
  • Strengthen you.  Suffering affects you emotionally; therefore, God will make you firm in your emotions. Where you are emotionally weak and unsteady, He will strengthen your soul.
  • Settle you. Because your whole being has been shaken by your suffering, God will settle (establish) you.  He will lay again a firm foundation to uphold you so that you are stable in all your ways, not wavering, but confident in the God of your salvation.

Why would God do all this after you have suffered for a while?  Because it was never God’s intention for us live in a place of darkness, defeat, disappointment and discouragement .  Again I ask, remember Job?  At the end of Job’s suffering, however long it was, God restored him and all he lost with double.  God’s desire from the beginning has always been for our good. His will is for all mankind to live victoriously through faith in Jesus Christ (John 10:10). His desire is that we be ‘whole’ human beings in a loving relationship with Him.  All that He allows to happen in the life of His children is scripted with purpose. It is usually in times of suffering and adversity that we draw closer to Him through prayer and supplication.  Moreover, He draws closer to us. During suffering is not the time to become bitter; look to God for the better.

Yes, the struggles in life has a way of making you feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel, and darkness covers you like a blanket with no sign of a light.  But, we must remember the promises while traveling through the tunnel of darkness. Get in the Word of God because the entrance of His Words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple (Psalm 119:130). May you be enlightened and encouraged by this post.

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Your turn..

What will you do when it seems like a ‘little while’ has turned into a long while in a tunnel of darkness?

Will you admit that you focus more on ‘how long’ rather than promised outcome after the suffering?  If you admit yes, what will you do differently after reading this post?

Meditate on this Word: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”  -Romans 8:28

Rejoice in suffering?

Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans: “…we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. —Romans 5:2-5

MPWM faithful reader, do you like pain?  Do you like suffering? I certainly don’t.  I reach for pain relief meds at the slightest sign of a headache.  How and why should we rejoice in our suffering? Suffering is uncomfortable and painful.

Do you think Paul was speaking only of himself, perhaps in third person? I think not. Based on my belief in the inspired authenticity of the Bible, I believe he’s talking to Christian believers today.   Reading Paul’s letters, it’s obvious that he had his share of suffering—painful experiences, troubles, trials and hardships. 

 

In 2 Corinthians 11:24-27, Paul listed all he endured: 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.

(Can you believe the audacity to complain about having to wait in rush-hour traffic?)  Also, in his letter to the church at Philippi, which was written during imprisonment,  Paul expressed his desire to know Christ better by partnering with Him in his suffering. Enduring much suffering for the cause of Christ taught Paul to be content in all circumstances. He encouraged the Philippians to cultivate this same ability. (Philippians 3:10-11; 4:11).

The idea of Christians suffering today is frowned upon.  The message of suffering is no longer on our list of sermon topics or Bible Study teaching series in the local church. On the rare occasions that the subject of suffering comes up it is directed toward foreign countries plagued by enormous hardships, persecution, and suffering.  Yet, in America the reality of suffering, hardships and adversity among Christians is evident by the long prayer lines, many prayer requests. Since suffering is on the rise, perhaps now is the time to teach people how to rejoice and not lose hope during tough times.

The disadvantages and distresses of life are more prevalent in our time than during Apostle Paul and the early Christians lifetime. Why? It’s a different world—larger population, different culture, along with changing socioeconomic factors.  Without a doubt, life can be hard and painful…brutal in fact! The main point of emphasis Paul makes is that of our attitude during suffering. While going through the adversities of life, we must always have hope—an expectation that troubles won’t last always. Having this hope gives us a reason to rejoice…envision better. Secondly, we are able to rejoice when we “know” there is purpose for our pain. Knowing that God is intentional in allowing us to experience the unpleasantness and vicissitudes of life should motivate us. Our motivation is based on our knowledge of God.  Know this: whatever God allows is to empower us to be better, do better, live better, and have a better relationship with Him; living in harmony with His plan for our lives. Ultimately, suffering is a process that produces Christ’s character in us.

How should I rejoice in suffering? By continuing to give God praise, being thankful and worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ in spite of hardships, trials and tribulation.  Why should I rejoice? My hope (expectation) is solidified by my knowledge of what the outcome will be. (God always causes us to triumph in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14).   Although we have disappointments in life, hope and faith in God will not result in disappointment. He pours into us His love, which will sustain us through all life’s ups and down.

“Hands-On Faith Project”

“The LORD said, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”  —Job 1:8

I know I’m not the only one that has felt like God extended an invitation to Satan to consider you as a “Hands-On Faith Project.”

It’s true there are some church folks that would boast of being so highly recommended by God…they thrive on accolades, honorable mention and praise.  Really now?  Who in their right mind would like to be handed over to the adversary so God could prove a point—put you on display for all to see, or make an example of you for generations?  Yet this is basically what God did to Job—granted Satan permission to wreak havoc in Job’s life.  However, before I go any further, God knew the outcome, and did not give Satan full control (2:6).

Job’s ordeal was an extreme test of faith.  The best man on earth (according to God Himself) suffered the worst calamity.  Sooner or later we all find ourselves in a position “somewhat” like Job’s. Our world seems to crumble. Nothing makes sense any more. I admit I’ve gone through some stuff in life; God seemed distant and silent. During these times of great crises, we are put on trial. 

The book of Job records every step in the trial process with unflinching honesty.  Job’s life stands as an example to every person who must go through great suffering.  But, God is faithful, and you will receive double for your trouble.

In my study of Job’s account, I also learned that, like Job, we have a tendency to believe that we shouldn’t go through anything simply because we’re God’s servants, living a Christian lifestyle, doing all the right things, and that we have a right to complain (3:20-26). Consequently, when troubles come our way, first we express despair. In our despair we wish we were never born.

Secondly, like Job, we are apt to defend ourselves against the opinions and often misguided counsel of others. We feel we don’t deserve to suffer…or the trials and troubles we’re experiencing are incompatible based on our good service rendered.  Our emotional state becomes so unstable that we feel we must continue to defend our cause, and we even get an attitude.  We feel that God has betrayed us, and even the people that we considered our friends. What makes the situation more frustrating is when family and friends are convinced that we are guilty of “something” and that God is punishing us.

Finally, someone like Elihu comes on the scene to put things in proper perspective—I call it God’s perspective.  Elihu recognizes Job’s arrogance and bitterness. Elihu has no agenda other than to speak the truth from God’s perspective. He basically tells Job that God is sovereign—He does not answer to you, or anyone else. He is God!  He is a just God; He is a great God…consider nature. No one can force God’s hand, or tell Him what to do. Elihu challenges Job’s thinking, to change his attitude and be patient (36:16-21).  This is also noteworthy: Elihu asserts that God uses suffering for good (36:1-15).  Last bit of advice Elihu gives Job is to stand in awe of God and show Him reverence.

Sometimes, we have to be reminded.  The blessings that God bestows upon us are not an entitlement. We must be careful to always remember that no matter what God allows to happen in our lives, He will always work it for our good, and for His purpose.  Yes, Job complained; he questioned God’s sovereignty in view of his own uprightness and integrity.  But when the LORD confronted Job with questions about His sovereignty, it humbled Job. It opened Job’s eyes.  Job put things in proper perspective—repented and confessed that he knew nothing, and was insignificant in comparison to God’s wisdom and power.  After Job recognized his proper position and got things in proper perspective, God restored his fortunes, and gave him twice as much as he had before.

So if you feel that God has extended an invitation to Satan to consider you as a “Hands-On Faith Project”, rest assured that God is sovereign. He’s all-knowing; all-powerful.  He knows what He’s doing and there’s a reason for it. And there will be a reward as well, if you let Him be God, trust Him and view your situation from His perspective. After all, He makes the recommendation for His “hands-on faith project.”