How Do I Handle Suffering?
How do you handle the suffering that comes your way? Suffering can take many forms: mental anguish, physical pain, hurting children, grief or financial ruin. Lysa TerKeurst describes God’s love reaching out to you in her article: But What to Do with the Deep Ache in My Soul?
“I don’t like to be in pain. In any way. And if I’m not careful, this aversion to pain can lead to me grabbing for something to fill the deep ache in my soul.
Maybe you can relate.
When you’re lonely and you see your ex-boyfriend post a picture with a new girl — laughing, holding hands, and looking like the happiest they’ve ever been — your flesh will want to grab at something. It’s hard not to comfort yourself by texting another guy to grab a little attention and make yourself feel better.
When you’re listening to other moms talk about all the progress their children are making in reading and your child can’t even identify letters yet, your flesh will want to grab at something. It’s hard not to throw out a statement to one-up the bragging moms in an area where your child is excelling.
And all these things we’re tempted to grab at? They won’t fill us the way we think they will. In the end, they only make us feel emptier. But how do we tell our flesh no when we are desperate for relief?
I have discovered that the more we fill ourselves from God’s life-giving love, the less we will be dictated by the grabby-ness of our flesh.
One of the most beautiful descriptions of the fullness of God is found in Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians:
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19, NIV)
My favorite part of Paul’s prayer is him asking that we have the power to grasp the fullness of the love of Christ … for then we will be filled with the fullness of God.
If we grasp the full love of Christ, we won’t grab at other things to fill us. Or if we do, we’ll sense it. We’ll feel a prick in our spirit when our flesh makes frenzied swipes at happiness and we’ll pause.
In this pause we find a great daily choice we can make. Am I willing to tell my flesh no, so that I can say yes to the fullness of God in this situation?
And this isn’t about us putting on a brave face and hoping for the best when we feel powerless. We have the power through Christ, who is over every power, including the pull of the flesh. When we have Christ, we are full — fully loved and accepted and empowered to say no.
This is true on the days we feel it, and it’s still true when we don’t feel Jesus’ love at all. If we live rooted and established in His love, we don’t just have knowledge of His love in our minds, but it becomes a reality that anchors us. Though winds of hurt blow, they cannot uproot us and rip us apart. His love holds us. His love grounds us. His love is a glorious weight preventing the harsh words and hurtful situations from being a destructive force. We feel the wind but aren’t destroyed by it. This is the “fullness of God.”
There is power in really knowing this. This isn’t dependent on what you’ve accomplished. Or on another person loving you or accepting you. Nor is it because you always feel full. You are full, because Christ brought the fullness to you.
Yes, I am fully loved, fully accepted, and fully empowered to say no to my flesh. Speak that truth in the power He’s given you. Believe that truth in the power He’s given you. Live that truth in the power He’s given you.
That’s how we tell our flesh no. That’s how we live fully prepared in the fullness of God.
Father God, thank You for Your love for me that knows no end. Help me look to You and You alone to fill me. I want my roots to go down ever deeper in Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”