Chapter 3: Suffering

Jesus shows, both in his teachings and in his life, that true joy often is hidden in the midst of our sorrow, and that the dance of life finds its beginnings in grief.

Nouwen, Henri  Here and Now: Living in the Spirit (p. 42). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.

Sweet and sour sauces dance on our taste buds. It’s the hard acid base that makes the sweet so, well… sweet. On the other hand, as the sweetness hits our taste buds, the sour makes us want to pucker up! It’s the contrast of the two sensations, at the same time, that magnify these opposites. Sweet and sour clarify and contrast one another.

Let’s pray:

Dear Lord, we often feel fragile when we realize how much being loved and accepted is at our core. Help us to enjoy a calm assurance as we acknowledge that we are truly cherished as Your creation. Amen.

Here is a quick review of the questions to keep rolling around in our minds as we study…

Is there any one idea that really reached me?

What is God revealing about Himself in this reading?

What is God revealing about me in this reading?

Where was the “bottle neck” in my past that kept me from realizing God to His fullest?

Was it a person, or maybe an event? Could it have even been me?

Upon realization, ask God for healing and an example of His perfect love.

Where am I “bottle necked” now in my relationship with God?

What can I recognize, or handle differently to increase “flow” in my Spiritual life?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This whole idea of “embracing pain” is counter-intuitive!

Does pain serve a purpose?

How can pain be an indicator of tender areas that need God’s special healing touch?

The cross has become the most powerful symbol of this new vision. The cross is a symbol of death and of life, of suffering and of joy, of defeat and of victory. It’s the cross that shows us the way.  

Nouwen, Henri

If you wrote the paragraph following Henri Nouwen’s statement above… what would you write?

When a person feels betrayed or like a trust is broken… is there a way to look at and deal with the pain?

Finally we must find the freedom to step over our wounds and the courage to forgive those who have wounded us. The real danger is to get stuck in anger and resentment.

Nouwen, Henri

While we acknowledge this advice from Henri Nouwen, how was Christ during His time on the cross an example of this?

Finally, what is the danger in “getting stuck in anger and resentment”?

As we move forward in experiencing these insights from Chapter 3, I pray you feel safe sharing your thoughts and feelings with this group of people who are each learning through a school of hard knocks through life! Knowing we are not alone, that we are loved and we share in this gift of life may be inspiring and encouraging!

8 thoughts on “SWEET & SOUR…

  1. Stepping over our wounds I found to be very lnsightful. It is so hurtful when a loved one or a dear friend hurts you, that person you had put faith in… to be by your side through thick and thin. God is telling me to forgive so it doesn’t eat away at me. It is hard because the wound cuts deep. Looking through this reading, if we don’t forgive, we become bitter and our hearts become cold. God doesn’t want that for us. God wants us to forgive, so that our hearts are not cold and we’re able to reach out to others and be there in their time of need. pHe wants us to have JOY in our hearts. By forgiving, it leaves us to be able to share joy and love to others as Gods children, remembering that God loves stands faithful and strong! All God’s Children say Amen 🙏

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  2. I’ll share my experience with a medical problem with you. I have had psoriasis all my life. It is an
    awful auto immune disease. There is no cure for it. Basically your immune system does not work
    right because the body makes more skin cells than you need. That causes the patches of red,
    itchy, crusty, oozing and bleeding spots. For some reason, at this late stage in my life, my psoriasis
    flared to the point of almost 100% coverage on my body. I had pain just trying to wear clothing or
    taking a shower. The itching could drive one mad and constant bleeding and oozing from the sites.
    People starred at me. Some people make comments: what is that, what is wrong with you,
    boy you’re really covered, one even asked if I had ring worm.
    I tried so many prescriptions that you applied to the skin but the psoriasis had grown to a point that
    the doctor said he could not even prescribe enough of it for me to cover the areas and the price had
    sky rocketed. Many of the other drugs had such severe side effects that I was too scared to take them. Every day I would look in the mirror in hopes of seeing improvement.
    But that never came and I would be in tears. I prayed and many others prayed for me. I knew I
    had to give in to taking the drugs that were so scary to me. The doctor prescribed the first one and
    also suggested a special diet. No sugar, no carbs. Then to loose weight and exercise. I prayed for God
    to help me with it all and that I could tolerate the drugs with no side effects. The drugs started to work
    right away, I started walking and was faithful to the diet. The drug was actually a cancer drug so a monthly blood test was also required to make sure of no side effects. My blood count dropped meaning I had to
    lower the doseage. Then I was required to do a liver biopsy which I declined to do so I could not take the drug any more.The doctor suggested another drug which you all probably see advertised all the time “Humira”. Getting it is not as easy as the commercials make it sound. A lot of red tape to go through for approval and
    insurance loop holes. In the end, I could not afford it with a price tag over $18,000 for only 3 months. Luckily
    my doctor is a Christian and he stuck by my side. He helped me through a lot of red tape to apply for
    a patient assistance program. I waited and waited until the day I got a phone call telling me I was accepted
    into their program. I would receive the drug at no cost. As I grew better and better, I praised God!!! My prayers had been answered many times over. I had made a promise to God that if I could improve, I would tell everyone that it was through Him that I was getting better and He made it possible for me to be able to get the care I was receiving. I’m just starting my second year on it and don’t know how long I can continue to
    receive Humira. He continues to keep me strong so that I stick to the crazy diet (no sugar, no carbs,
    no dairy, no red meat, and no night shades). I did loose 60 pounds and exercise every day. In the
    end I knew what joy, happiness and suffering was about. I did have a friend tell me in the beginning
    that I should thank God for the psoriasis. At first I thought she was crazy but now realize what she
    meant. If I concentrated on God instead of my illness, I would strengthen my relationship with God.

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    1. Pat, I have no words than can describe my feelings as I share in your experience through your post. It was interesting that God helped… and you had a part in helping Him help you. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Glory be to the Father, Son & Holy Ghost!!!! Yay Pat, Yay God!

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  3. I’m feeling the connection between the chapter on Joy and the chapter on Suffering are
    connected. We have Joy from our relationship with God which can bring happiness. But
    that same joy from God helps us through our suffering. Happiness comes from good circumstances
    that are based on believing in our promises from God. We keep learning as our relationship with
    God grows stronger. Suffering from death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, financial crisis, illness,
    etc. can bring about anger and resentment. But we must move past that so we don’t let it fester
    and turn into something more such as hatred. Even as Christ suffered on the cross, he asked for
    his Father to forgive because “they know not what they do”. We all have battle scars from life
    which can be used as learning experiences that we should enable us to grow closer to Christ.
    Remember the song “Day by Day”?

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    1. Lina Sandell was called the “Fanny Crosby of Sweden”. From her pen flowed a great number of hymns which contributed much to the waves of revival that were sweeping the Scandinavian countries during the latter half of the 19th century.

      Lina was born in 1832 in a small community in northern Sweden where her father, Jonas Sandell, was the Lutheran parish pastor. Though serving a state church, Pastor Sandell was sympathetic and strongly supportive of the revival movement. He became an early leader in this spiritual renewal with its emphasis on a personal salvation experience as opposed to reliance upon the sacraments and rituals of the church.

      Lina greatly loved and admired her father. Since she was a frail youngster, she generally preferred to be with him in his study rather than with comrades outdoors.

      When Lina was just 12 years of age, she had an experience that greatly shaped her entire life. At an early age she had been stricken with a partial paralysis that confined her to bed much of the time. Though the physicians considered her chance for a complete recovery hopeless, her parents always believed that God would in time make her well again.

      One Sunday morning while her parents were in church, Lina began reading the Bible and praying earnestly. When her parents returned, they were amazed to find her dressed and walking freely. After this experience of physical healing, Lina began to write verses expressing her gratitude and love for God and published her first book of spiritual poetry when she was 16.

      When Lina was 26 years old she was accompanying her father aboard ship across Lake Vattern. As they stood on deck watching the rolling waves, the vessel suddenly lurched. Lina’s father fell overboard and drowned before the eyes of his devoted daughter.

      Although Lina had written many hymn texts prior to this tragic experience, now more than ever poetic thoughts began to flow from her broken heart. All of her hymns reflect a tender, childlike trust in her Savior and a deep sense of His abiding presence in her life.

      Lina wrote approximately 650 hymns before her death in 1903 at the age of 71. 50 years after her death, 10,000 people gathered in the yard of her childhood home to dedicate a bronze statue in her memory. The little family cottage is now a public museum in Sweden.

      The remarkable popularity attained by Lina Sandell’s hymns has been due partially to the simple but melodius music written for them by Sandinavian musicians such as Oscar Ahnfelt, the composer of this tune. Ahnfelt was known as “the spiritual troubadour of Scandinavia” in his day. Not only did he possess the gift of composing pleasing melodies that caught the fancy of the Swedish people, but he traveled from village to village throughout the Scandinavian countries preaching and singing these folklike hymns to the accompaniment of his home-made 10 string guitar. Lina Sandell once said of him, “Ahnfelt has sung my songs into the hearts of the people.”

      As is often true whenever revival fires begin to glow, Oscar Ahnfelt experienced much opposition. One time King Karl XV. ruler of the united kingdoms of Sweden and Norway was petitoined to forbid Ahnfelt’s ministry throughout the Scandinavian countries. The monarch refused until he had had an opportunity to hear the “spiritual troubadour.” When the monarch called for him to appear at the court, Ahnfelt could not decide what he should sing for his king, so he requested Lina Sandell to write a special poem for the occasion. Within a few days she had the new text ready. With his guitar under his arm and the new hymn in his pocket, Ahnfelt appeared at the royal palace and sang these tender words:

      Who is it that knocketh upon your heart’s door

      in peaceful eve?

      Who is it that brings to the wounded and sore

      the balm that can heal and relieve?

      Your heart is still restless; it findeth no peace

      in earth’s pleasures;

      Your heart is still yearning; it seeketh release

      to rise to the heavenly treasures

      King Karl listened with moist eyes. When Ahnfelt had finished, the monarch gripped him by the hand and exclaimed, “You may sing and preach as much as you desire throughout both of my kingdoms.”

      -’52 Hymn Stories Dramatized’ by Kenneth W. Osbeck & Wikipedia

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