This reflection took place at a morning Eucharist - a part of a series on the 23rd Psalm by Bishop Elmer Belmonte on 5 December 2019, transcribed by Deacon Andrew Gossage
How should we respond to suffering?
“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” (Psalm 23:4)
Yesterday we looked at the stages of grieving. When in a difficult stage such as anger or depression, never make a life-changing decision. Wait until the storm is passed. Humans have emotions but are not intended to be the basis of decisions..
God's response to suffering
We don’t know why people suffer is another complex question. It is not a question of WHY? But what is God’s response to suffering; God is with people who are suffering. God is a compassionate.
Suffering is not God’s fault: for example, the atom bomb is a misuse of what He has given. But in the end we simply need to trust in His providence. If He allows us to suffer, let us not be angry with Him. He works in our lives even when we are in the valley – sometimes this is where we experience the greatest growth. If there is one good reason why God allows us to experience difficulties, it may be this.
Some people suffer as a consequence of wrong decisions, which is called justifiable suffering. Another kind of suffering comes when we do God’s will, and this is a righteous suffering. Let us be thankful, because He is performing a work in us that we don’t see. In the end, with God we always win.
Joseph the dreamer
Joseph’s brothers oppressed, abandoned and rejected him and threw him in the well because of jealousy, then they sold him as a slave. Potiphar’s wife accused him of sexual harassment, and he was put in jail – but his story did not end in jail. When people act unjustly, we react and become angry; but God is just, and there will always be justice – if not in this life, in the life to come. With God the end of the story is always good and victorious.
In the valley of the shadow of death we undergo discouragement, sometimes lack, or other life challenges – but if our life is in Christ, we can we can say, “Lord, maybe You’re doing something in me. It’s ok if that’s what You want for me.” I’m not going to abandon God or the church because I don’t have money or a house. Because God loves me, if He allows me to suffer, I know that He is doing something; and even if I don’t understand, I know it is for my good, because God is good. When facing a difficult situation we may consider thanking God, because He may doing something in our life or preparing us for something good in the future. Profound growth can happen when in the valley.