Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Prayer for the Suffering

"Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray." --James 5:13

Often times in our lives, we find ourselves suffering. Maybe we become ill or fall on hard financial times. Maybe we've lost a loved one and must now grieve our loss. Often, we have to endure these hardships despite the fact that they are not the result of sin or the chastening of God. Two of the best examples I can think of are when Paul tells us he is suffering for the sake of the gospel (2 Timothy 2:8-9,) and Job, who suffered terrible losses because he had so much faith in God.

When we find ourselves in situations like this, I believe there is only one appropriate answer: Pray.

Not only can prayer remove our suffering, (if it is in God's will,) but it can also give us strength to endure the trouble. The act of prayer is to humble thy self before the Lord. We must admit that we are not truly in control and that only God can carry us through our suffering. We know that "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble", (James 4:6,) so wouldn't the obvious answer be to humble ourselves before him?

Sometimes, it is simply God's will that we suffer. It's OK for us to ask God to remove our inflictions, but we should be prepared to accept "no" as an answer. Paul prayed three times that God might remove the thorn in his flesh, (2 Corinthians 12:8,) and the answer was no. Jesus himself prayed, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will,” (Matthew 26:39.) God did not remove the cup from Jesus Christ, but he did give him the strength he needed to go to the cross and die for our sins. Just as he will give you and I the strength to suffer through our hardships as well.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." --2 Corinthians 12:9