A-Pair of Docs: Interlude


A-Pair of Docs:  Interlude

The other Doc is not here today.  We’ve planned two more sessions focusing on how to activate the Serenity Prayer in our lives.  So today you get a freebee. We’re going to consider unmerited suffering, pain, and sorrow as these circumstances call for the activation of the Serenity Prayer to deal with.


This week I have read about so many people suffering.  No one is seemingly exempt.  I’ve read comments on social media dealing with how people are trying to deal with physical, emotional, social, and spiritual problems that are on the level of suffering.  It’s heartbreaking, especially in those situations that through no fault of their own someone is thrust into a world that they do not want.


Merited suffering is the troubles we bring to ourselves because of unrighteousness, the choices we make that are out of harmony with God’s will for our lives.  Our focus is on unmerited suffering, the troubles life brings to us just because life is hard.   I wish that this talk will elevate your suffering, but a fear that it will only give you a way of thinking about your suffering that might make it easier to deal with. 


In scripture, we have some solid insight into suffering.


First, we should expect disappointments, hardships, calamities, and catastrophes.


John 16:33 (MSG)

In this godless world, you will continue to experience difficulties.


Life is not just, life is not fair, life is hard, adulting is difficult. Unmerited suffering is part of life. This is why we need to activate the serenity prayer in our life: “We take the world as it is, not as we want it…”


Second, we need to realize that God is not punishing us when bad things happen. (Romans 3:25)


Matthew 5:44-45 (MSG)

When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.


Lamentations 3:33 (NIV)

For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.


Unmerited suffering is not punishment.


This is why we need to activate the serenity prayer in our life:  “Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will…”


Third, testing and trials are a discipline that motivates change

Unmerited suffering is not punishment but it is a proving ground for your faith.  We learn more from our struggles and failures than we do when everything is going well.


Hebrews 12:5-6 (MSG)

So don't feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children? My dear child, don't shrug off God's discipline but don't be crushed by it either. It's the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects.


We seldom change when we see the light, it takes some heat, often in the form of trouble to get us to change. This is why we need to activate the serenity prayer in our life: “Courage to change the things I can…”


Fourth, we need to allow suffering to transform us.


Nothing forces a person to confront their true self like suffering. Suffering causes our focus to turn inward, to face those parts of ourselves we might otherwise ignore. God can use suffering then to develop us into better people: the people who can love and enjoy Him forever (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4). Theology Thursday: The Purpose of Suffering | GCU Blog


Romans 5:3-4 (MSG)

There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience, in turn, forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.


You can transform suffering into a teacher


This is why we need to activate the serenity prayer in our life: “That I may be reasonably happy in this life…”


Fifth, we need to allow suffering to motivate us


“God uses suffering to make us both willing and ready to be part of what he’s doing in the lives of others.”  4 Reasons for Hope in Suffering | Crossway Articles


Never let a horrible situation go to waste.


Take your pain and make something beautiful out of it. 7 Things to Do When You're Suffering - FOCUS (focusequip.org)


2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.


“God uses suffering to make us both willing and ready to be part of what he’s doing in the lives of others.”  4 Reasons for Hope in Suffering | Crossway Articles


This is why we need to activate the serenity prayer in our life: “Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace…”


Sixth, we need to allow suffering to lose our earthbound temporal chains.


Suffering teaches us the difference between the important and the transient. It prepares us for heaven by teaching us how unfulfilling life on earth is and helping us develop an eternal perspective. Suffering makes us homesick for heaven…  Suffering reminds us that we live in an abnormal world. Suffering is abnormal—our souls protest, "This isn't right!".  … Suffering dispels the cloaking mists of inconsequential distractions of this life and puts things in their proper perspective. The Value of Suffering | Bible.org


2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


There is nothing in this world for me now. This is why we need to activate the serenity prayer in our life: “And supremely happy with Him forever in the next…”


Seventh, we need to allow suffering to give us a testimony.


Our tragedies are meant to be testimonies that will give glory to God.  God Will Turn Your Tragedy Into A Testimony - China Christian Daily (2 Corinthians 4:7-15)


Other people notice our sufferings, and when we suffer well, they wonder or ask ‘how can you possibly keep on keeping on,”  you get to tell them about God’s power in your life.


2 Corinthians 12:10 (MSG)

Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.


The stronger you become in spirit the brighter your Christ light shines, drawing people out of the darkness. This is why we need to activate the serenity prayer in our life: “Living one day at a time…”




2 Timothy 4:5 (MSG)

But you—keep your eye on what you're doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God's servant.


Don’t think for a minute dealing with suffering is easy, or that somehow dealing with it takes away the misery, the distress, the grief, or the tears.  There is nothing noble in suffering.  Suffering can tempt you to think that the only way out is to die, like the Apostle Paul whose situation motivated him to write us and tell us that he “despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8). Dark times, painful times, can make you wish you’d never been born.  Who wants to live in endless days of agony?  Who wants to live with relentless fear at every turn?  Chronic suffering can crush your hope if you allow it. Don’t allow it.


Expect bad things are a part of a good life and that when you are thrown into suffering God is not punishing you.  When you win the battle that allows suffering to teach you, learn that you can experience the fiery furnace as the heat that makes you a better person.  Suffering will transform you, you get to choose for better or for worse.    Don’t waste your suffering use it as motivation to action. You can allow suffering to break you free from the inconsequential, and the temporary, and focus on the things of the Kingdom.  Finally, suffering gives you a platform to speak truth into the lives of others.


Nobody wants to suffer.  It’s OK to ask God to take away suffering; Jesus did (Luke 22:42).  If your suffering is not taken away, accept it, and embrace it. Do everything you can to squeeze some good out of it. Most likely it will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.  It’s in this struggle that you need to activate the serenity prayer the most.


God grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.


Living one day at a time;

enjoying one moment at a time;

accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

taking, as He did, this sinful world

as it is, not as I would have it;

trusting that He will make all things right

if I surrender to His Will;

that I may be reasonably happy in this life

and supremely happy with Him

forever in the next.



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