by Dr. Warren Heckman
Everyone experiences suffering here on earth.  It varies and can be physical, emotional, financial, psychological or spiritual.  Sometimes we seem free from suffering and life is good, then BOOM, out of the blue we are hit with painful situations and circumstances.  It can be overwhelming when we are trying to serve God with all our hearts.  The big “why” consumes our thinking.  Why me?  I’m not sinning, rebelling or growing cold in my spirit.
I love mission trips and they are costly in time, energy, money and separation from family.  I returned from Liberia, West Africa years ago, (1983) after 5 weeks of ministry.  I brought back a fever with me, (ha) and ended up in the hospital as it got worse and worse.  The best doctors in Madison, WI could not cure it, or find the reason for it and finally gave me up to die.  WHY???  I was very careful following the missionaries guidelines, doing the work of the Lord.  God raised me up and I was healed.   Why did I get so sick and almost die!?! Praise the Lord, that I lived, but it doesn’t always end up that way.
In the past 10 years our greater family circle has experienced some of the worst kinds of suffering:  Addictions, adultery, arrests, death, drugs, divorce, depression, financial crises, and serious cancers to name a few! 
When faced with suffering I believe we will get bitter or better, get weaker or stronger, get stronger in faith or give up our faith, we’ll pray more or quit praying.
In September 2009 I was on a mission trip to several countries in Africa, when in Uganda, I slipped and slid down about 15 feet on a small mountain.  I had to be hospitalized for a week in Uganda, with a shattered right ankle and injured lower back. The whole process was painful and expensive. The recovery was slow and I continue to live with pain! Why?  It wasn’t like I was just on a vacation or pleasure trip, but I was doing MINISTRY, serving the Lord.  Why???
David expresses a similar situation in Psalm 6:1-6  “Be gracious O Lord for I am pining away.  Heal me O Lord, for my bones are dismayed, they are in agony…I am weary with my sighing.  Every night I make my bed swim…”
Later David writes, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19).
Job told his friends, “Miserable comforters are all of you,… there no limit to your windy words?” (Job 16:1-3).
When we observe someone suffering it’s easy to pass judgment in our hears and think, “I wonder what they did that has brought this on them?”  In fact, Jesus had disciples who did this very thing, like Job’s friends, with the man who was born blind (John 9:1-3).
Yet in the midst of all of these confused messages about suffering we are told to celebrate suffering. James 1:2-12 and 1Peter 1:6-7 tell us that we are to count it all joy when we have fiery trials.  But sometimes we feel like David when he wrote “Look to the right and see; There is no one who regards me…no one cares for my soul” (Psalm 142:4).  We echo Job’s lament when he said “I cry out to you for help, but you do not answer me!” (Job 30:20).
I have tried to count it all joy when going through fiery trials, but we all know it’s not an easy thing.  What do we learn from Job?   Reread the argument that God had with Satan.  Maybe the fiery trials are testing whether we only serve God because of His favor, blessing, and protection.  What will my response be to fiery trials, suffering financially, maritally, physically and emotionally?  Will I say like Job “Though He slay me yet I’ll trust Him?”
I want that to be my testimony.
Paul sought the Lord three times for deliverance from his thorn in the flesh, and the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.”  Paul’s response was, “Most gladly therefore I will rather boast about my weaknesses that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Cor.12:8-9).
I’d like that to be my testimony.  Am I content to suffer, to live with pain, or to simply stand by watching my kids and grand kids suffer?  Never!  I pray night and day for my pain to go away, to be healed and for each of them to be ministered to according to their needs! And, even in that place, I rejoice in the promises of Romans 8 that “nothing can separate us from the love of God!”
So today, I don’t know what you’re going through, but, whatever you do, do not listen to the Devil who would condemn you or to your friends who would accuse you.
Stand tall, “count it all joy,” and keep praying!
Dr. Warren Heckman is the National Coordinator for the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies U.S.A.

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