February 1, 2015

by Susan Reusser, LCSW

With the beginning of February, the New Year is well under way. This is often the time when resolutions are abandoned. In the “bleak midwinter,” comfort food often replaces our plan to lose a few pounds, there are more parking spaces available at the gym, and our plan to read through every book in the Bible may once again dwindle into a quick verse or two before bedtime.

In Galatians 6:9, we are encouraged with the words, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

The words, “if we do not give up” indicate to me that challenges can be expected in our lives. Paul encourages us to continue “doing good” in the face of challenges. How can we make these good choices in the face of difficulty? What are some steps that can help us not to lose hope, but to trust in God’s goodness even in the face of great suffering?

  1. Look for the good. The old adage, “Count your blessings” is a good place to begin. In Philippians, we are asked to “approve the things that are excellent.” Ask God to reveal the lessons in your present situation. Is there ANYTHING good happening? What growth do you see as a result of the emotional, physical, or spiritual work you have been doing? Are you closer to Christ? Are you less likely to trust in your own righteousness? Are you more understanding of others?

Phil. 1:9-10 “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Chris”

  1. Remember that life is short. This perspective reminds us that suffering will not last forever AND that it is important for us to make the most of the time we are given. While physical and emotional pain are difficult, they remind us of life, of hope for things to be better, and of the greater needs of others. Reminders about the brevity of life may help us to cherish the time God has given each of us. Pray that God would help you to use each minute given wisely.

Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

  1. Encourage yourself with the hope of Heaven. We are, ultimately, not built for earth. Our bodies begin to decay from the time we are born - some more quickly than others.  Our bodies are not a permanent dwelling. When unexpected changes in our bodies challenge us with physical pain, we are reminded that our ultimate destination is a home in Heaven with a perfected body.

Philippians 3:20-21 “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”  

Much of this life is a mystery. In Philippians 3, Paul writes extensively about his pedigree, training, and work for God. He counts all of this as “garbage” when compared with his desire to know Christ – “to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” As you face the surprises of your life, ask God to guide you in looking for the good, numbering your days, and hoping for Heaven. I am confident that as you seek God’s face in suffering, He will be present in ways you never expected.