Pain, Perseverance, suffering

Suffering and Pain: This Thing is of Me (1 Kings 12:24).

I have been listening to many teachers of the gospel and one of them who has sound teaching on trials and suffering is Dr. David Jeremiah.

Dr. Jeremiah was diagnosed with stage four of lymphoma cancer over twenty years ago.  He went through treatment and the Lord used doctors and medicine and he recovered fully. 

As a result of his experience, Dr. Jeremiah wrote a book: When Your World Falls Apart and shared a series of teachings on what he learned from his experience.  He provides a clear analogy that helps us understand suffering, which he refers to as “ bends on our road” that God uses to prune and edify us. 

He reiterates that suffering is not always from the devil, but the Lord allows it for his good purposes. 

When I reflect on my own trials, I can say that as much as they have been painful and sometimes very disheartening, I am comforted to know that God understands pain.  He allowed  His own son to suffer for my sake.  He could have chosen any other means to save mankind or simply destroyed it after Adam’s disobedience, but He did not. 

Instead, God used the ultimate of all pains: the death of His begotten son, Jesus Christ, even death unto the cross. 

Like all human beings living in this fallen word, I have know pain and loss.  My little baby girl died just three days after birth.  I was in a hospital that did not have a backup generator and when the electrical power went off, several premature babies including my little beautiful baby died that night.  The image of her fully formed tiny body,  laying in a cold incubator remains fresh in my memory. 

I have also lost two of my closest family members, my dad and my elder brother.  Death is for sure the ultimate of all despair and loss. 

Depite the pain and loss, I cannot comprehend the love and comfort I have recieved from my Father in heaven. He who is the author of my life allowed His own son to die on the cross for me.  I don’t get it all but one thing I know,  a good God also allows and understands suffering and pain and through Christ, we have life eternal.

On 2nd August 1896, the famous British gospel teacher Charles Spurgeon preached from the book of  1 Kings 12:24: “Thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me.”

I would like to share the piece, below that many preachers cite when preaching about suffering and quoting 1 Kings: 12:24 “This Thing is of Me.”

I can’t tell who the original writer was but I credit this citation from Laura A. Barter Snow’s book: The disappointments of life.

“THIS THING IS FROM ME” (1 Kings 12:24)

The disappointments of life are in reality only the decrees of love: I have a message for thee today, My child. I will whisper it softly in thine ear, in order that the storm clouds which appear may be gilt with glory, and that the thorns on which thou mayest have to walk be blunted. The message is but short—a tiny sentence—but allow it to sink into the depths of thine heart, and be to thee as a cushion on which to rest thy weary head: “This thing is from Me.”

Hast thou never thought that all which concerns thee, concerns Me also? He that toucheth thee toucheth the apple of Mine eye (Zech. 2:8). Thou hast been precious in Mine eyes, that is why I take a special interest in thine upbringing. When temptation assails thee, and the “enemy comes in like a flood” I would wish thee to know that “This thing is from Me.” I am the God of circumstances. Thou hast not been placed where thou art by chance, but because it is the place I have chosen for thee. Didst thou not ask to become humble? Behold, I have placed thee in the very place where this lesson is to be learned. It is by thy surroundings and thy companions that the workings of My will is to come about.

Hast thou money difficulties? It is hard to keep within thine income? “This thing is from Me.” For I am He that possesseth all things. I wish thee to draw everything from Me, and that thou depend entirely upon Me. My riches are illimitable (Phil. 4:19). Put My promise to the proof, so that it may not be said of thee, “Yet in this thing, ye did not believe the Lord thy God.”

Art thou passing through a night of affliction? “This thing is from Me.” I am the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isa. 53:3). I have left thee without human support that in turning to Me thou mightest obtain eternal consolation (2 Thess. 2:16, 17).

Has some friend disappointed thee? One to whom thou hadst opened thine heart? “This thing is from Me.” I have allowed this disappointment that thou mightest learn that the best Friend is Jesus. He preserves us from falling, fights for us in our combats; yea, the best Friend is Jesus. I long to be thy confidant.

Has someone said false things of thee? Leave that, and come closer to Me, under My wings, away from the place of wordy dispute, for I will bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday (Psa. 37:6).

Have thy plans been all upset? Art thou crushed and weary? “This thing is from Me.” Hast thou made plans and then coming, asked Me to bless them? I wish to make thy plans for thee. I will take the responsibility, for it is too heavy for thee; thou couldst not perform it alone (Ex. 18:18). Thou art but an instrument and not an agent.

Hast thou desired fervently to do some great work for Me? Instead of that thou has been laid on one side, on a bed of sickness and suffering. “This thing is from Me.” I was unable to attract thine attention whilst thou wast so active. I wish to teach thee some of My deep lessons. It is only those who have learned to wait patiently who can serve Me. My greatest workers are sometimes those who are laid aside from active service in order that they may learn to wield the weapon of prayer.

Art thou suddenly called to occupy a difficult position full of responsibilities? Go forward, counting on Me. I am giving thee the position full of difficulties for the reason that Jehovah thy God will bless thee in all thy works, and in all the business of thy hands (Deut. 15:18). This day I place in thy hand a pot of holy oil. Draw from it freely, My child, that all the circumstances arising along the pathway, each word that gives thee pain, each interruption trying to thy patience, each manifestation of thy feebleness, may be anointed with this oil.

Remember that interruptions are divine instructions. The sting will go in the measure in which thou seest Me in all things. Therefore set your heart unto all the works that I testify among you this day. For it is your life (Deut. 32:46-47).

Selected Resources:

Chris Rice

Abusive relationship, Marriage, Pain, suffering

What I do in an abusive marriage?

Featured teaching: The Emotionally destructive marriage: Leslie Vernick

I grew up in a small village in Kenya in a family of six, three girls and three boys. I was blessed to have hard working and caring parents, yet, I knew something was not working between them.

As a small girl, my basic understanding of marriage was that it was a commitment between dad and mum. What I did not understand however is why my father who, when drunk would physically beat up mama and chase her out of the house in the cold.

With a black eye, an injury on her face or elsewhere, Mama would come back into the house in the morning to prepare breakfast for Papa and her six children, yet when Papa woke up, he behaved like all was well.

It is hard to unpack in a few words what pain this caused us all.
There are days when mama could not take it anymore, and she would pack her few clothes and escape to her parents.

When I was a grown woman and with my own family, I asked her why she kept coming back to the abuse to which she responded: “I kept hoping that one day your dad would stop drinking and treat me well.  Again, as a Christian, I believed that the Bible commanded me not to leave ’till death do us part’.”

Mama was the firstborn in a family of thirteen children. Her parents were peasant farmers and had enough challenges in raising their dozen children.   Whenever mama ran back to her home, she felt guilty that she was adding a burden to the already burdened parents

As a result, I saw mama go through so much pain.  She worked extra hard.  To ensure we had enough to eat, she was hired to work in other peoples farms.  I witnessed her lose weight due to lack of an appetite, she would easily get agitated,  she developed asthma and became very weak and skinny.  I now know that she suffered clinical depression.

While I felt sorry for Mama, I also cared for Papa. When not drunk, he was kind and loving. Despite his drinking, he paid school fees and provided the basics. This made him look better than many men in the village.  When sober, he was calm and quiet.  Many times, he looked remorseful after spending his money on the bottle or having gotten mugged when walking home at night.  I felt sorry for him.   There are times after a drunken fight, he would apologize to us, would promise that he would stop drinking for a few weeks, then relapse after a few weeks.

By God’s grace, we all grew up, got jobs and moved from home to the city.  We looked forward to coming back for a  holiday. When we did, it would sometimes be fun and sometimes bitter.  I realized mama and papa were not friends. With the children gone, they simply co-existed and this was painful to watch.

I have since learned that abuse takes many forms.  For Mama, it was physical, psychological and emotional. I have also learnt that dad was sick. He was an alcoholic who for lack of knowledge and resources never received any treatment.

Today, people are more enlightened about these conditions that so negatively affected my parents relationship.   Abusibe spouses are more afraid of physically abusing their spouses for fear of going to jail.   As a result, they revert to emotional abuse.   I knew mama was hurt because I saw her scars.  What I did not see were her emotional wounds.

This concern led me to look up resources on emotionally destructive marriages and below, I share a few references from Christian councilors. Through them, I hope to repackage what abuse looks like in a marriage and what a Christian can do to be safe and live a life that glorifies God.

Featured Resources

Video credit/ Leaslie Vernick

Featured: How to have more emotional safety in relationships and what to do if you are in a relationship that is unsafe. (credit: Veritas counselling/Dove Tv)