Category Archives: Suffering

Be Unstoppable: Scott Hamilton

I’ve never been a big fan of Scott Hamilton. Nothing personal. I’ve never been a big fan of figure skating.

Until now.

I’m still not a fan of figure skating . . . but boy am I a fan of Scott Hamilton.

The term hero gets thrown around lightly these days and too many people get credited as being one. Only some truly deserve it and in my opinion Scott Hamilton is one of them.

At least, he’s now one of my heroes.

Check out the link below to hear what incredible challenges he’s overcome in life and the faith that has sustained him.

I’m currently doing a mini series of posts called “Be Unstoppable” and Hamilton’s story fits perfectly. He’s seen the darker side of life; he’s met challenges head on; he’s kept a proper perspective; he’s suffered and lived in the valley . . . and he’s ultimately found his strength and courage and ability to press on in God and God alone.

Be inspired by his story . . . and be unstoppable.


Learning From Those Who Suffer


A Silhouette of Sadness

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love talking to people who have suffered greatly. No, I don’t get some twisted pleasure from listening to the plight of others. Those who suffer or who have suffered have a unique perspective on life.

When I meet someone who has suffered, whether physically, emotionally, financially, or spiritually, I take the time to talk to them, to pick their brains, to dig into their experience. I want to know what they went through, how they felt, how they made it through, what they learned, how they changed.

No one emerges from suffering unchanged. These folk have discovered what it is to really live, the value of life and relationships. They know the importance of perspective and priorities. Life has taught them lessons you can’t put a price tag on; it has tempered their resolve, strengthened their courage, sharpened their wisdom. God has shown them a side of himself few get to see.

For them, suffering has been a blessing. And they’ll be the first ones to admit that.

I need that reminder, that refresher course in what really matters in life. In the midst of the busyness of life and the constant battle with expectations and desires and pressure, I need to be refocused by these folk.

Here is a sampling of life lessons I’ve learned from people who have traversed the Valley of the Shadow of Death:

  • Relationships are what matter most, not success or image or climbing some ladder to nowhere.
  • God is there even if you can’t feel his presence.
  • It’s okay to be honest with God. He’s big enough to hear us put a voice to our emotions.
  • Suffering is temporary. No matter how long you have to endure it, an end will come.
  • When I am weak, then I am strong.
  • It’s okay to accept help from others, they are God’s messengers of grace.
  • When you have nothing else to hold on to, God is still there.
  • When God is silent, that’s when he’s holding us tight.
  • Suffering can be a blessing in disguise.

Have you learned any other important and noteworthy lessons from those who have suffered? Or from your own suffering?

When We Don’t Agree With God

Français : Prise de Jéricho Flavius Josèphe, L...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes, I don’t agree with God. There, the cat’s out of the bag and now it can hiss and scratch and jump around and make me look like an idiot. But I doubt I’m alone.

It’s natural for us to question God, to observe what he does or what he allows and say, “Mmm, I’m not sure I would have done it that way,” or “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”

It’s part of being human for us to read about God’s actions or decrees or intercessions in the Bible and cringe. For us to see the suffering around us and wonder why God allows it to go on. God instilled in us a sense of justice and fairness and sometimes his own actions (or perceived inaction) seem to offend those standards.

Ordering the Hebrews to kill ALL the women and children in the Promised Land? My author’s mind plays this scene out like a movie. Babies torn from their mothers’ arms and run through with a sword. Women, screaming, crying, begging for their life, or maybe begging to die after watching their daughter’s grisly slaughter. Toddlers running and hiding, watching their mommy succumb to a violent death.

God? Is this fair? How do you explain this? I’m sorry, I just can’t agree with you on this.

And then there’s Jericho. Think of all the elderly, the women, the children, who died when that city fell. We tell these stories in Sunday School and highlight the glories, the triumphant victories, but we ignore the carnage, the brutal reality of all the deaths.

I have a hard time being okay with these decisions.

I feel bad about all this. I do. I feel like my faith is weak, feeble, and even offensive to God. How dare I question him? How dare I set my own sense of rightness above his? How dare I pretend to know what is fair and just?

But at the end of the day, in spite of all my questions and cringing and wondering, I trust him. I know that his ways are above my ways, that his standard of justice and fairness is above my standards. I know that he doesn’t do what is right, no, he’s the standard . . . what he does is right. And I know that though my heart may cry out at these decisions of God’s, my head tells me he knows what he’s doing and I don’t always have to understand it. Sometimes his business is just none of mine.

Yes, there are explanations to the instances I used above, reasons God commanded the death of the Canaanites, and good reasons, mind you, but to my human (and maybe Western) sensitivities, it doesn’t take the sting out of how his will was accomplished.

Have you ever wrestled with not agreeing with God? Have you ever thought, “God, are you sure you know what you’re doing here?” If you have, rest assured that you’re not alone. You at least have me to join you.

Is Suffering a Privilege?

010 | Suffer

(Photo credit: The Doctr)

March is colon cancer awareness month so I’m going to be posting occasionally about cancer, occasionally about colon cancer, and occasionally about suffering. I’ll state a disclaimer now that most of what I post will be re-posts from last year on my Michael King blog. But since this blog gets so much more traffic than King’s blog I figure it can’t hurt to post again. Besides, I need to read this stuff more than once . . . just to remember.

I have a friend who suffers from a malady that affects him every day, several times a day and sometimes totally incapacitates him, leaving him unable to move or even speak. And yet in spite of this thorn he presses on and serves God wherever he can, sometimes to the point of near total exhaustion.

He told me, “Jesus did so much for me, following his call is the least I can do for him.”

Our conversation led us to the topic of suffering and trials and what it all means, what the “point” of it all is. We talked about the thorn in the flesh that Paul wrestled with and how those thorns drive us closer to God, relying on Him for strength when we have nothing.

“When I am weak, then I am strong.”

Not in our own strength, but in His strength.

Suffering pushes us into God’s arms, the point of total reliance on Him.

My friend, who’s thorn affects every aspect of his life, then said, “You know, if I could do life all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Sounds strange, I know. But there’s a blessing in suffering, a certain privilege that goes with travelling that valley of the shadow of death. Those who hurt–the wounded, the afflicted–get to experience God in a way others never do. They see a side of their Father that is reserved for those who share in Christ’s suffering. They feel the tenderness of Daddy, His arms around them, His breath in their ears. It’s an experience that far outweighs the pain of the trial.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18, NIV)

I’ve often said that people have one of two reactions to suffering: either they turn from God and want nothing to do with Him, or they run to Him and fall into his open arms.

When suffering strikes, when trials push themselves into your life, run to your Father, rely totally on Him, abide in His presence.

There’s blessing to be found there.

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