Monday, November 18, 2013

Is Suffering Necessary?

I am sure you, like I, have found the 23 Psalm very comforting in times of loss, distress, suffering, and pain. I have found it extremely helpful in the times when I have felt like I was hopelessly lost in my suffering, pain and grief. I have to say it is not particularly a time of distress for me recently. I am more unsure about the future right now than in any period of suffering. Frankly, I am in a good place kind, of more like the green pastures, than the valley of the shadow of death. That is maybe why Jesus is calling me to write this particular post right now because you usually have a better perspective on suffering in the green pastures than during the journey through the valley of the shadow of death.  So here are a few thoughts on the 23 Psalm and it's obvious depth into the journey of suffering and finally to show is the absolute necessity of suffering in helping us lean on the Good Shepherd for the benefit of our souls and finally "dwelling in the House of the Lord Forever".

The Lord is My Shepherd I shall not want...
Normally the crisis of life make us cry out to God more than the green pastures. I have never learned about faith deepening or trust strengthening in the easy times (green pastures). In My life I only grow in significant ways in the valley of the shadow of death. I do learn about thanksgiving in those good times, but the valley of the shadow of death is absolutely necessary because we have to lean on Christ as the Good Shepherd in those times because He is our only hope.We are tempted to resent and become bitter at the shepherd for leading us through the dark valley, but the same is true in the green pastures we are temped to love the blessing rather than the giver of all good gifts. We are tempted to love the grass rather than the Shepherd who led us to that green pasture. So there are dangers in the green pasture not just the dark valley, and the Good Shepherd leads us into all of them by His wise and good plan. "I shall not want" means that we have no lack of anything that the shepherd thinks isn't absolutely good for us. He will in his wise and good plan give us everything that we need for our good and his glory even the hardest of circumstances, He allows for our great good. As you probably notice that the Shepherd walks with us the whole way. As you endure in the hardest of trials know that the Good Shepherd has laid down His life for the Sheep, and in every way has taken on human suffering in His body on the cross, so that He can become our brother that has gone before us in taking on our sin and shame. Everything that you think is an impossible suffering he has endured more! He has become our great high priest who can sympathize with and has entered into our weakness! That has to be the most comforting thing. He has fully entered the human experience and taken onto himself the full brunt of human suffering and so he is qualified to be a Good Shepherd. So as you take on this trial, hardship,  or suffering know that if it was necessary for Jesus to be perfected through the things he suffered, then it must be absolutely necessary to suffer with Him and for Him to lead us through the dark valley. Philippians 3:10 one of my favorite verses "I want to know Christ in the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death". In our sufferings we can fellowship with a Good Shepherd, Savior, and Lord.

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