North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose 

    There once was a young boy who went fishing with his grandfather. While trying to hook the worm, he hooked his finger. Because of the pain, the boy’s eyes began to fill with tears. As the grandfather removed the hook, he told his grandson, “Don’t cry! Things like this happen.” The little boy grew up thinking that you shouldn’t admit your pain and you should always except suffering no matter how bad it gets.    One of the most repeated promises found in the Bible is taken from Psalm 34:18-19: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit. Good people suffer many troubles, but the Lord will help you.” This is assurance that God is close to us when we’re sorrowful and our hearts have been broken. But why does he seem distant during times of difficulty?

    It doesn’t take a person long to recall hurts from their past. Many people have experienced profound wounds to their spirit, whether it’s the abandonment of a parent, abuse from a family member, the bullying of a peer, the passing of a loved one, or the unfulfillment of a long-held dream. All of these things are the result of living in a fallen world with fallen people. Yet what people typically do with their wounds is almost as universal as the suffering we all face; they hide it.

    While on a military assignment in Virginia one of the Soldiers asked if he could speak to me about something. I’d always admired his military knowledge and he always appeared strong, on task, and positive. But because of the blows of life he was unraveling inside. He explained to me that he had lost 13 family members in the last 18 months and it was beginning to take its toll.

    I asked him, “Are you a Christian?”

    He said, “Yes.”

    I asked again, “Do you trust God with all your heart?”

    He again said, “Yes I do.”

    I told him, “There’s only one source that can help a person deal with that kind of pain.”

    We continued to talk throughout the next few days and he was able to explain and come to understand more of the feelings he had on the inside. I reminded him of the words of Psalm 34. He eventually told me, “I’m feeling better. I just wonder why it all happened to me.” And that’s that universal question we all ask, “Why me?”

    1 Peter 5:10 gives us part of the answer: “Be firm in your faith and resist him (Satan), because you know that other believers in all the world are going through the same kind of sufferings. But after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who calls you to share His eternal glory in union with Christ, will Himself perfect you, and give you firmness, strength, and a sure foundation.”

    Many times when we’re trying to recover from a broken heart, we begin to feel like ourselves again, only to have something else happen. Satan knows if he can keep us discouraged enough we may fall prey to hopelessness or try to reach out to things we shouldn’t (drugs, alcohol, wrong relationships). Suffering may seem good for nothing but when analyzed from a different point of view, it can become one of our best teachers.  

    Suffering can teach us patience. I firmly believe that God allows afflictions to come so we will learn to wait for His will and His way to be revealed. I’ve seen a pattern in my own life and I think the Lord chastens us when we become too busy with our own affairs (Deuteronomy 8:5).

    Suffering can test our faith. The trials that you suffer prove that your faith is genuine (1 Peter 1:7). Suffering tests the caliber of our faith. During suffering, faith gains or wanes, we use it or lose it, it grows or it goes. Suffering is allowed by God in order that we may be made perfect, established, strengthened and settled.

    Suffering can train us for service. One of the things I tell people who are dealing with hurt and hardship is to look for a purpose in suffering. God definitely has a reason for what He allows. He may be preparing you for a new or different work. We’re enabled to help others after we have experienced what they’re going through.

    Suffering can testify to others. If we endure suffering and glorify God through it, others will be convinced that God can help them also in their time of need. 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8 says, “You imitated us and the Lord. Even though you suffered much you received joy from the Holy Spirit and the news about your faith in God has gone everywhere.”

    Sufferers can triumph through Christ. The apostle Paul always took delight in suffering, because he felt like it was Christ-like to suffer due to Christ’s death on the cross, 2 Timothy 2:12 says, “If we endure the suffering like him, we will reign like him.” Christ suffered for us on the Cross. He paid the penalty of our sins and was victorious! Christians who suffer can be confident that Christ shall reward them with the Crown of life and reign with him in heaven.

    Trust that God will work in and through your pain in life. The Psalms are about praise, but they’re also about grief, trouble, and working through it. Lean on Psalm 34 during your suffering and feel God drawing near. When we admit our wounds and grieve them, we find a Father who has compassion on His grieving children and who can help us through our pain.

• This bi-weekly column is written by Matthew Dobson. He’s a teacher, U.S. Army Chaplain, and the Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in the New York Community. He recently published another book titled “Living With Purpose Volume III” and it can be purchased on Contact him at:

Posted by on Jul 3 2016. Filed under Churches, Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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