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! :)

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