Reach Out and Reach Up in Suffering
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21 NIV)
Every person who reads this will face tragedy at some point in your life. You’ll have loss — major loss — in your life. None of us can escape tragedy.
Jesus, God’s Son, sure didn’t.
And Jesus didn't just give us a model in his life. He gave us a model for handling pain in his death. He modeled what you should do during the worst day of your life. The Bible says in 1 Peter 2:21, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (NIV).
Two years ago — five days before Easter of 2013 — my youngest son took his life. It was the worst day of my life. I’ve been asked many times how I’ve made it through the past two years.
I looked to the model of Jesus. That answer is Easter.
So what did Jesus do during the worst, most painful day of his life on Earth?
- He reached out to friends. On the night that Jesus knew he was going to be arrested, tortured, and executed, the last thing he did on the earth was gather with his closest friends. Jesus didn’t ask for speeches or advice. He asked for their presence.
Most of the time, we do just the opposite when we’re experiencing pain. We pull away. That’s just dumb! God never meant for us to go through pain on our own. That’s why you need to be involved in some sort of small group environment in a local body of believers.
- He reached out to God through prayer. You need friends in times of trouble, but you need God even more. God will be by your side when no one else will.
Jesus did this in the Garden of Gethsemane. And in doing so, he gave us a terrific model for prayer during suffering: You affirm God’s power. (Pray something like, “Lord, you can do anything.”) Second, express your desire. (“I don’t want this pain.”) Third, submit to his will. (“Don’t do what I want; do what you want.”)
You weren’t designed to go through suffering alone. As times get tough — and they will — reach out and reach up.
You’ll be glad you did.
Talk It Over
- Do you find it more difficult to reach out to God or other people during times of trouble? Why?
- Why do you think it’s so important to affirm God’s power in the midst of difficult times?
- How can you be more prepared for others to reach out to you when times are tough?
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