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Have you ever heard that hardships don’t have to turn into suffering?

Recently I heard a preacher saying that we can choose joy over suffering even when we have hardships and that we don’t have to suffer so much over the bad things that happen to us—losses, illness, tragedies. Have you ever heard that hardships don’t have to turn into suffering? How do we choose how much we suffer over these things? 

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I've never thought it a choice how much we suffer???  Perhaps on how long we chose to suffer, i.e. lay in bed, self pity ourselves, blame others, etc.  but I do believe in the preachers response that we can choose joy over suffering.  

Hi, Watchman. Grief is something felt when loss occurs, and a common teaching is that there is no timetable for grieving. It’s a process over time. However, some people tend to start feeling better sooner than others. Some can lose a loved one and begin feeling better in a few months while others don’t start enjoying life again for several years. Employers allow three days off to make arrangements and go to the funeral/life celebration but that has nothing to do with how much time is needed to adjust to the loss and deal with the pain. Someone can feel as much pain, too, over losing material possessions as the person feels over losing a loved one. It seems that getting over the loss of things is easier than the loss of loved ones. Yet, we tend to admire those who have been through such traumas and who still have a smile on their faces and don’t seem to be in misery. I’m wondering how there is such a wide difference in the response to loss and if it’s a choice.

Hi Amanda,

I've thought about this myself.  It makes me think of my own family when I was a child and the trauma my siblings and I experienced with our abusive father.  There are four of us.  All four of us have responded and dealt differently.  It makes me think it's a personality thing --possibly.  I believe there is an element of 'choice' also, but a person can't choose something easily when it goes against the core of who they are as a human being.  Some people never seem to recover from loss, trauma, tragedy etc...  but as you say, others seem to bounce right back up. 

Have you heard of the book "5 Love Languages"  Author is Gary Chapman.  http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

The idea is pretty straight forward.  Each person has a love language and will give love easily in the language that most relates to them personally, but also receives love in their own love language easily.  Problems occur when misunderstandings of love languages collide and we fail to understand the love language of the people we are interacting with.  Anyway, the reason why I'm mentioning it here is because something else can happen.

Let's say a person's love language is 'touch'.  These people love to give and get hugs, hold hands, massages... etc..  If that is abused in any way, that person will feel the effects especially deeply.  Physical and sexual abuses committed on a person who's love language is touch will possibly have a more difficult season of recovery than the same acts committed to a person who's love language is 'receiving gifts'.

The five love languages are said to be:

1) Words of Affirmation

2) Acts of Service

3) Receiving Gifts

4) Quality Time

5) Physical Touch

Of course people can have combinations of each.  I believe it's likely that some will speak to each person more than others though.  I feel that all relate to me in some way.

My standout ones are Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service.  My oldest son is Words of Affirmation and Receiving Gifts.  My youngest son is Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service.  My husband is Physical Touch and Quality Time.

I'd love to hear what you think about this.

Blessings, Carla

Hi, Carla. I haven’t read the book you’ve mentioned but I have read other books about personality typing. It does seem that pain can take control of our lives and if we don’t deal with losses (cope) effectively, then the pain will become part of our lives perhaps even lifelong and become a burden we will always carry. Too many turn to self medicating in order to cope and substance abuse can lead to developing addictions. Others, like myself, withdraw and isolate.  Altruism can even be a coping mechanism—we help others to help ourselves. Humor can be a way to cope. There are many ways to cope but not all are good. Some people become so grief stricken that it’s hard for them to face another day. In the past I have thought that God must give us special grace that will keep us from being overcome with sorrow. Perhaps it’s true that sorrow doesn’t have to overcome us. Another friend told me on Facebook that it was her faith that has helped her. She said she thinks it all comes down to faith and whether or not you can "stand on His promises" and accept His will. Yet, in the past, especially when working for a hospice, it was suggested to never say it was God’s will because that could lead to even more blaming of God and more pain. 

I believe that sorrow doesn't have to overcome us.  I can't say for sure if our personalities play a role in that, or if it's a choice.  I do know that Jesus heals.  In that sense, perhaps nothing else matters.

In answering your question "Do our hardships have to turn into suffering?"  The natural response is yes... they do and they will.  The supernatural response is that Jesus will be with us as we go through them, He will heal us in ways that we may not see or understand, and He will also bring people alongside us to help carry the burden. He may even show us purpose in it.  It's highly likely that HE will also use the suffering so that we can speak into other people's lives in ways that only those who have gone through the same thing understand.  As I read the question over in my mind I keep putting an emphasis on the words 'HAVE TO'.  We can ask 'Do our hardships turn into suffering?' and we may be inclined to answer "Well, they don't HAVE TO.  That leads us to ask, how can we make it so that they don't?  Perhaps the answer is different for everyone. 

We will all experience pain, tragedy, loss, etc... But Jesus tells us "Take heart, I have overcome the world"

Our peace comes in knowing that this is His victory, and for those who are IN HIM, we will have victory too.

I would agree that my faith helps... but I think we have to be careful with that because people have faith in all sorts of things that could help all-be-it temporarily.  So-- at risk of sounding finicky over words...I would have to change it to say 'Jesus helps'...especially since my faith is also a gift from Him.

Jesus helps forever, completely, and finally!  He has the final say.  The good news is, Jesus knows and understands each one of us and meets us right where we are.

Greetings Amanda,

First one would have to clearly define what is meant by suffering. Every life, including the child of God in this life, experiences pain, loss and grief.

Secondly we have to look at things in perspective. In my opinion too may people live in yesterday, many live for tomorrow and some for today. Our goal is to learn from the past, live in the moment with the promise of eternity before us. The early Christians that were killed brutally killed for their faith were, in my opinion able to experience all three. The past clearly identified that God had saved them and they were no longer who they to be. If this were not so all many had to do was recant and live, but the change was profound and could not be denied. Their present meant they were going to die in the flesh, but the future promise ensured them that no matter what they faced in this life, even death, God was in control and had promised eternal life in Him.

There is an old saying that is true, but I believe incomplete. "We cannot be so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good." We also cannot live live with heaven out of focus. Yesterday cannot be changed ... we can learn from it or be held captive to it, but it is in the past. Today has an impact on tomorrow and our focus on tomorrow will have an impact on today.

Lord Bless,

LT

I watched “Paul, Apostle of Christ” and thought they did well showing the way Christians willingly went out into the arena where lions were waiting, reminding me of the words in Hebrews “other were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection” Hebrews 11:35. 
In this world, so many horrible things can happen.

"... You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety" Psalm 4:8.

Panic and fear overwhelm me at times. 
 
It is said that the view of the present is through lenses that are formed by the past, and I suppose present perspective could be negative or positive even if ones past has been very difficult. Memories matter.
 
Many people live very happily in the present.
 
The past isn't constantly bombarding them with internal distractions. No past trauma is floating on the surface of their present moment. They are flexible and the flow of life is steady for them. 
 
There are others who are caught in a frozen river and for them the flexibility needed to let go just isn't there yet. For some it never will be and they die being very bitter against God and people.
 
Suffering can be caused by our own choices or by the choices others make. For instance, when older siblings can’t seem to stop smoking and then get ill after smoking 30 years, and die from lung cancer or copd in middle to late 50s or early 60s, their loved ones are hurt by the premature deaths and also by seeing their declining health and their struggle and pain. 
 
I lost a third brother September 18. I lost two sisters as well from July 2015 to this most recent death—a total of 5 siblings. Today, still feel like it isn’t real that this brother has died. I loved the others as much but this has been different and with him more difficult for me. I went to his viewing and to his graveside service and I saw him and talked to him during his final months and even two days before he died. I asked him if he was going up to heaven, and he said yes. I believe he was saved. I’m just still in shock I guess.
 
I know none of us are guaranteed a certain number of years. A life of a loved one cut short is always sad though no matter what causes it. 

I understand what you are saying, especially about loss. Between my wife and I we have lost 4 blood siblings what one would call too early. I suggest one thought ... Joy and sorrow are not opposites, but can be experienced at the same time. It is difficult be be forward focused, but that is our goal. Looking back has a place in our lives, but we must desire to not be held in the prison of the past, but rather in the hope of the future.

So beautifully stated LT.   Amanda, nobody is stating that feelings stop....I believe with all my heart that feelings are so much represented by the Lord and He eliminates our feelings of distress and depression.  He lifts us.

How much do you suffer???  My answer would be only as much as you choose.  Sure, things hurt, I had my husband die and many other things happen there-after, but it's all okay, everything is as it should be.....No mistakes.

None of us know what suffering we will have to endure before we leave this life. 

In the past I’ve wondered how others praise God during hard times. It's been difficult for me, and, yet, there are so many bible passages where someone is not only seeking God and crying out to Him from a place of great pain and agony, but, ironically, is praising God, even in the middle of the anguish. 
For the ones in scripture, praise seems natural. 
For me, it often seems forced.
Yet, I'm learning how to praise God again, and I can see it in a different light now. 
Praise can be genuine in all situations because what's important is having God with you no matter what or how you’re feeling. 
He is a stronghold for the oppressed, for those who are in troubling circumstances. 
He is a refuge for the poor, and a stronghold to those in distress, a shelter from the storm.
I praise God for all these things, for Who He is, for the way I’m beginning now to see Him after joining a new congregation in June 2017 where members are faithful to prayer, to the study of God’s Word, to worship in Spirit and truth, and to encourage one another to continue to persevere in their trials. 
Psalm 9:9-10
English Standard Version (ESV)
9 The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Isaiah 25:4
English Standard Version (ESV)
4 For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;

My favorite Habakkuk 3:17-19

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