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 Suffering is not the exception to the rule in life; it is a constant throughout the world, no matter the continent, ethnicity, or culture one might come from. Suffering is universal, a uniform theme throughout all of mankind, one of a handful that everyone can relate to no matter where they happen to reside. When you tell another person you’re suffering, they understand it for what it is without having to go into detail or explain the definition thereof.

There’s a reason James mentions suffering first, then those who are cheerful second. Chances are, on a given day, there will always be more suffering than cheerfulness, and that’s the sad reality of the world we live in. Even among believers, there is a likelier chance that someone is suffering, but their suffering is not without recourse, purpose, or finality.

The only unknown is the severity or intensity of the suffering one might be called upon to endure, but as far as suffering is concerned, it is a common theme and has been since the beginning of creation. Given that all men suffer, our aim should not be to avoid suffering but rather to suffer well.

Even if we try to avoid it, we can’t. It’s not just unrealistic or improbable; it’s impossible to avoid suffering while you’re on this earth, and even those who thought they could leave the world behind and live out the rest of their days wearing a virtual reality headset pretending to be the emperor of Rome, had to deal with the bedsores they developed.

There’s an adage that says if you know you can’t avoid something, you might as well meet it head-on. Suffering is one of those things we can’t avoid in life. It will come upon us all at one point or another, so knowing this, we must determine how we will react in the face of it.

The counsel James presents is simple and straightforward. There is no course you have to buy, no workshops you have to sit through, and there isn’t a price you have to pay to unlock the secrets of suffering well. Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Just because the remedy is simple, it doesn’t mean it’s ineffective.

I have two young daughters who have boundless energy. Sometimes, I forget I’m pushing fifty, and I get ahead of my skis whether we’re doing piggyback rides or jumping over obstacle courses they create in the backyard. Once in a while, I wake up with a swollen knee or a swollen ankle because daddy’s not the most dexterous man in the world, and the most straightforward remedy is always an ice pack. That’s it. It is simple enough but always effective, and nothing works quite like it, even though I’ve tried other things.

Prayer works. When we are suffering, however that suffering might manifest in our lives, the answer and remedy is always prayer. As children of God, we have access to Him, we can approach Him, we can beseech Him, and we can receive comfort from Him. This is a privilege the godless do not possess, yet so few who claim to be His children avail themselves of this gift.

We would rather bemoan our fate, insist that life is unfair, and solicit the prayers of others when we ourselves ought to be praying and spending time in His presence so that He might bind up our wounds and heal our hurts.

There is a difference between the consequences of our actions and the suffering that befalls all men, which they have no hand in, which they have not contributed to, or are responsible for. This is an important distinction because oftentimes, we judge someone’s situation and conclude that sin was the culprit and disobedience was the root of their hardship when this is not the case.

What was Job’s sin that he was brought so low? By God’s own word, Job was a blameless and upright man who feared God and shunned evil. There was none like him on the earth, and yet what he suffered can scarcely be imagined.

Job 1:8, “Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”

The notion that true servants of God are exempted from suffering is an aberrant teaching that can only be promulgated in the West, for there are countless souls whom God calls His servants throughout the world who are currently suffering for the cause of Christ. The nations are numerous, the suffering is intense, and for anyone to say that they lack faith and this is why they suffer is antithetical to the teaching of the Word.

We either grow and mature in our suffering or despair. We either learn to trust in the providence of God and draw nearer to Him, or we become resentful and despondent. These are choices that we make as individuals.

You can’t say something doesn’t work without trying it. Even though the Bible says to pray if you are suffering, many believers attempt everything else but prayer to try to alleviate their situation, to no avail. If it didn’t work, the Bible wouldn’t recommend it. If the Bible recommends it, it means it works. I can’t state it any simpler than that.

We tend to go down rabbit holes where we insist that someone’s experience is purely anecdotal and that what worked for them might not work for us. However, this isn’t about anecdotal experiences; it’s a proven remedy that the Bible counsels us to pursue. If you prayed once in your suffering and nothing came of it, pray twice, then a third time, and learn to spend time in God’s presence where there is healing and peace.

I have a friend who insisted that coffee does nothing for him. My answer was that he wasn’t drinking enough of it. The same goes for praying in the midst of suffering. If prayer isn’t working, perhaps we’re not doing enough of it.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea, Jr.  

Posted on 20 March 2024 | 12:45 pm

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