Thursday, 30 May 2013

Speech on Suffering

 Hi all,

As I've got exams rapidly approaching, you won't see many (if any!) posts by me over the next few weeks. In the meantime, however, I thought I'd post a speech I wrote a few years back, shortly before I went through some trials. Looking back, I can now see that the Lord used this and the fact that I had been reading books about Christians who suffered to prepare me for the trials ahead. He is so good!

Please excuse some of the *cough* interesting *cough* ways I explain things, and bear in mind that I wrote this during a period of life where I had yet to go through any major trials. I may not fully agree with it all now, but it does raise some good points and over the years the Lord has used it to remind me of things I am all too quick to forget. So I pray that it would help you too! :)

 My Speech on Suffering
By Violet (aged 15 or 16 years)
Have you ever been through a day which you just want to forget? A day when nothing seems to go your way, everyone seems angry and upset with you, and you are angry and upset with everyone? We all suffer and go through periods in our lives where we would rather throw the covers back over our head and sleep the day away. Today, I will tell you why it is not always a bad thing to suffer because it teaches us valuable lessons in life, it helps us to develop endurance and gives us an opportunity to use our trials for good.

Firstly, I believe that suffering is not always a bad thing because it teaches us valuable lessons in life. When things go wrong in our lives, there is often something to be learned, which develops our character and helps us to be more humble and thankful for the good things we have. I'm sure that you have all heard of the Titanic, or at least watched the movie of the same name. She was an ocean liner which sank after colliding with an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean while on her maiden voyage in 1912. Because of the loss of one thousand five hundred and seventeen lives, the British government was made very aware of issues regarding maritime regulations and public safety. In particular, insufficient lifeboat numbers was a primary cause for the large loss of life, and regulations were changed as a result. In the end, the suffering that the people aboard the Titanic went through probably saved many more lives in the future. Similar adjustments regarding public safety were made closer to home following the Tangiwai disaster in 1952. A train was travelling through Tangiwai (which is near Mount Ruapehu), and was crossing a bridge when a lahar swept through and killed 151 of the 285 passengers. A warning system has now been set in place to prevent this from happening again. From this, we can see that though our present suffering may be painful, valuable lessons can be learned from it.

Secondly, I believe suffering is not always a bad thing because it helps to develop endurance in us. Just think of the Paralympic Games. Despite being born with a disability, the spirited athletes who participate have overcome their disability and made use of the abilities they do have. In this way, they have learned to endure their trial in order to make something out of their lives. Romans 5:3-4 in the Bible says: “. . . We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope.” One of the most extreme sufferers in human history must have been Job in the Bible. Imagine if you came home one day only to find that your whole family had perished in a car accident, all your material wealth had been stolen, and, to top it all off, you discovered that you had a terrible disease that disfigured you beyond recognition? Well, that is basically what happened to Job. Even though his wife told him to “curse God and die” he endured his sufferings and went on to lead a successful life. This is also seen in the life of Corrie Ten Boom. She was a Dutch woman during World War II, who helped shelter Jews in her home. Because of this she and her sister, Betsie, were taken away to a concentration camp where they endured unimaginable suffering. The hardest thing Corrie went through was Betsie's death. Yet the way in which she endured her suffering enabled her to say, “Joy runs deeper than despair.” And later, “This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.” When we learn to endure our present suffering, we can look to the future and see how our life is shaping us into better people.

Lastly, I believe that suffering is not always a bad thing because it gives us an opportunity to use our trials for good. The way we respond to our sufferings is just as important as the lessons we learn from them. While some people respond in anger, lashing out at others when they are suffering, others respond in a positive way, using their experiences to build their character. It seems that the way to make our sufferings worthwhile is to be a blessing to others, even though it can be hard. This was demonstrated through the life of Helen Keller. No doubt, you have heard of this blind and deaf woman before. But did you know that in her lifetime she did many amazing things such as standing up for women's rights, freedom of speech, pacifism, child labour issues and health care as well as improving conditions for the deaf and blind? One example of how she did this was when she rallied forces to convince a medical establishment to treat children's eyes at birth with a cleansing solution as a regular procedure. Rather than wasting her life feeling sorry for herself, she did as much as she could to improve things for future generations. She once said, “We are never really happy until we try to brighten the lives of others.” She is also known to have said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” In Charles Dicken's novel, Little Dorrit, the main character Amy Dorrit suffers tremendously, being torn away from those she loves, and treated shamefully by her own family. But throughout all, she maintains her loving personality, helping those who are worse off than she is. It has been said by Leigh Hunt, an English critic, “Whenever evil befalls us, we ought to ask ourselves, after the first suffering, how we can turn it into good. So shall we take occasion, from one bitter root, to raise perhaps many flowers.” If we respond to suffering in the right way, we can use what we have learned through it in order to help others.

In conclusion, I believe that suffering is not always a bad thing because it teaches us valuable lessons in life, it helps us to develop endurance and gives us an opportunity to use our trials for good. It is only when we can come to accept suffering as part of our lives, that we can become a blessing to others. After all, as Henri-Frédéric Amiel, a Swiss philosopher and poet once said, “You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering.”
God bless & I hope you find that helpful! :)

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Suffering is not a competitive sport ~ a blog article worth reading!!!

I just read this blog article this afternoon, titled "Suffering is not a competitive sport" and it really got me thinking! I can never thank the Lord enough for the way He brings articles like this and verses from the Bible to bear upon my life and convict me of my sin and my need of Him.

This article really challenged me as to the way I respond when suffering: do I use it as an opportunity to glorify God and make Him known or do I boast in my own abilities? I'm afraid it is more often the latter than the former.

Here are some points Colleen Chao makes which I think are worth noting:

- God often uses suffering to deepen our relationship with Him.
- Suffering shows us that this life is not everything.
- We often want people's empathy more than knowing Christ and sharing in His sufferings, rather than praising Him and using it as a sacrifice of praise.
- In doing this, often our own troubles are exaulted over those of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We can become bitter and twisted about our own problems, comparing them to others' and concluding that ours are worse, rather than using these trials to reach out compassionately to others who are suffering.
- In actuality, we all suffer: the nature of it and degree of it will be different for each individual, but who are we to question God's soverignty over the lives of ourselves and other Christians? He uses the fact that we all suffer to draw us closer together (how true this is, I have found, in my own life, where the trials other Christians in my life have endured have seriously encouraged me to keep trusting in the Lord).


What a challenge! Please pray for me, that the Lord would help me to not be so complaining to others about the trials but rather use me as a vessel of grace for His glory! Like Colleen Chao, "I don't want to make much of my suffering; I want to make much of my God in suffering" because "suffering is not the point. God is."


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

God is with us in dark times

A friend sent me this a while back, which she found in a Christian magazine. I stumbled across it again while clearing out my email inbox, and thought I'd share it with you all!

God is with us in dark times

Reading: Genesis 39:1-23

The life of Joseph teaches important principles about challenging times. Here are three of the lessons we can learn from the adversities he faced:
1. Difficulties will continue until God's purpose is accomplished. In Joseph's case, God's plan was to prepare him to rescue his family as well as the nation of Egypt from famine. In order to ready Joseph for a position of authority and responsibility, God placed him in an important Egyptian household as a slave. There, in difficult circumstances, Joseph could learn key lessons needed for the future. Not only did he acquire valuable skills, but his faith and relationship with the Lord were also strengthened. God still operates that way so we will be equipped to accomplish the work He has planned for us (Eph 2:10).
2. We learn more in the dark than we do in the light. Besides discovering the Lord's faithfulness, Joseph learned how to discern God's presence, reject temptation, and handle any position, whether respected or lowly. The lessons and principles of Scripture truly become "ours" only after they have been tested and proven reliable.
3. What we learn in the darkness, we are to share in the light. Joseph openly shared his faith and knowledge from God when he interpreted Pharaoh's dreams (Gen 41:15-16). He did not let imprisonment stop him from helping others (40:1-23). What we learn in our trials is to be offered to those who are suffering. Nobody looks for adversity, but hard times seem to find us often enough. Instead of fearing hard circumstances, we can trust God and embrace His plan, knowing He uses trials for His glory and our gain.
God bless!

Friday, 10 May 2013

Book Review: Into the Deep

Into the Deep: One Man's Story of How Tragedy Took His Family But Could Not Take His FaithInto the Deep: One Man's Story of How Tragedy Took His Family But Could Not Take His Faith by Robert T. Rogers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:
On the evening of August 30, 2003, Robert and Melissa Rogers and their four young children were driving home from a family wedding. Caught in a flash flood, Melissa and the children all drowned. "Into the Deep" is the compelling story of how one man's faith took root and blossomed through trials, blessings, and a deepening trust in God.

My Opinion:
This was an AMAZING read!!! I highly recommend it to anyone, particularly those who are going through difficult times in their lives. It really helped me to gain a better perspective on suffering and how God can use it for our good and His glory - if God can help a man to continue to have faith in Him even after the deaths of his wife and four kids, how much more can I trust Him during my much smaller trials?

Some of my favourite quotes were:

"I heard so many times from so many people, 'God never gives you more than you can handle.' I eventually came to believe that 'God will always give you more than you can bear alone, because He doesn't want you to bear it without Him.' Alone, this cross was unbearable. But with God, it was possible."

"I was experiencing firsthand the truth that in our weakness, God is strong. When we become nothing, He can become everything. From moment to moment, I was clinging to God with every fiber of my being. . . I can only describe it as a miracle of God's grace and strength working through me in my time of absolute weakness."

If you have a chance to, read this book!

And even if you don't get a chance, look up Robert Rogers's ministry and website at

So inspiring!

On Pinterest the other day I saw some quotes that I thought may really help you if you are going through a difficult time - they certianly helped me! So I thought I'd share them with you!

So true - you need to thank God regardless of circumstances, often He uses the trials to grow you most!
Liked this one - a good excuse! :P

Let the Lord be your master - not whatever causes you to worry!

So true - a lady who has cancer but still praises God and gives thanks to Him is such an amazing witness to those around her!

So true: the more you think of others, the more your own problems fade! God can use your trials to help others who are going through something similar or facing even worse things than you!

God gives us a lot of hope - He is always ahead of us and so we can be assured that He will be with us from day to day. May He be praised!


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Because He Lives!!!

For some reason, this hymn got stuck in my head the other day, and all day long I was humming the tune and singing the words. The lyrics are amazing, and such a helpful reminder when times are tough. I particulaly love the chorus which reminds us that we don't have to be afraid of what the future holds because He lives!!! No matter how tough things are, we can be sure that "life is worth the living just because He lives."

Because He Lives ~ Bill and Gloria Gaither

God sent His son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal, and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives.
But greater still the calm assurance,
This child can face uncertain days because He lives.


And then one day I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain.
And then as death gives way to victory,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives.


God bless!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Romans 8

There are times when the Lord really uses His word to bear upon our lives. This week, Romans 8 kept coming up in conversations. One friend recommended I read Romans 8:28, we read the beginning of Romans 8 as our family Bible reading last night, and in so many countless other ways it came up this week. So, it was only a matter of time before I had to dive into the passage myself. I am terrible - half the time, someone will refer to scripture, even well known passages and I will find myself thinking, 'So what does that passage/verse say again...?' Scripture memorisation is certianly an area I need to work on!!! I felt sure this week that the Lord wanted me to be reading this portion of scripture as it came up so often, and now I am so glad that I did! It is AMAZING! Upon reading it, I realised that I had actually read it countless times before, but in light of recent trials the Lord used it to convict me very powerfully of how I respond to trials in my life. I thought I would share it with you today, and my thoughts on it. 

Romans 8:16-39
... 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Verse 16 of this section really stuck out to me this morning - the phrase "provided we suffer with Him" really convicted me. The Lord's aim in this life is not that we will have a pleasure filled time of ease and comfort - though in many ways He does bless us, but rather He wants us to be made more like Him and to grow to love, trust and serve Him more. Isn't that amazing? He doesn't say "if you suffer..." the presumption is that you WILL suffer in some shape or form if you are a Christian.

The writer of Romans (Paul) then goes on to show us that in light of what we await in the future with the new heavens and earth, our trials here are really not all that significant. In actuality, the trials we endure now can be see as creation's childbirth groans. This made me think, is it not at all possible that the Lord gives us trials as a stark reminder that this life is really not as grand as we would like it to be and to make us yearn all the more for when we will be with Him, in order that we may be more zealous in serving Him with what little time we do have here?

And Paul also goes on to provide a reason for why we maybe don't have all the answers for our problems, why the Lord doesn't simply whisk us off to heaven when the going gets tough. In verses 24 and 25 he shows us that we have hope: and this gives us patience to endure tribulations, knowing that God's promises will hold firm.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 
Don't you just love verse 28? It is well quoted: and with good reason! It is so encouraging to know that whatever is going on in our lives, be it good or bad, the Lord will and is using it for our good. Pretty incredible when you think about it! Sure, right now we may not see the answers to all the whys - why is this happening? why me? why now? - but one thing we can be sure of: He is in control and He is using it for our good.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Wow, what amazing and glorious promises! Paul urges us to look to Christ and His suffering - surely, if God didn't spare His own Son trials in this life but lovingly gave Him up to save us, He will help us through the trials and will never be seperated from us. WOW!!! Thank you so much Lord!!!

I know many of you will have read this as so often I have read this passage - with a careless, "I already know this, I've read it all before!" So often, I come to God's word with this half-hearted attitude, and my prayer this evening is that the Lord's word would really convict me and you through this passage. May He help us to remember that He is in control!