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Suffering

My husband and I have been watching the summer TV reality show Expedition Impossible. Outdoor-type people are sent on outrageous adventures such as riding unruly camels across a desert, repelling down cliffs, or racing stallions to find clues to the final destination. The adventures test the endurance of individuals. As we sit in the comfort of our air-conditioned home, we think the contestants are absolutely crazy to attempt even half of the treks they willingly undertake.

We don’t even exercise after 8:30 a.m. due to the summer heat. Nothing would motivate us to attempt such treacherous and tormenting adventures. The contestants are doing it for the prize and something more. One woman was thrown from and then stepped on by a camel. If she were my friend I would have insisted she get an x-ray in an emergency room, but she presses forward though her little sister has bleeding ankles from hiking with no socks. If I were on their team I would wish myself in last place, only dreaming of the red helicopter that would rescue me from the insanity. As each team is sent home they are filled with sadness that they didn’t last another day, and pride in how far they came. So far every team has finished the journey, though the last team to cross the finish line has to leave. No team seems to regret that they agreed to wrack their bodies, minds, and souls or endure everything they suffered.

Now I’m coming to the spiritual part. What is wrong with us Christians? Why do we flounder under the suffering that we must endure? Isn’t it because of your greatest times of suffering that you have grown the most? I’m not saying that we should stand in line to have the next cancer scare or lose someone to death or face a broken relationship. I do want to say that we are on a spiritual trek that will lead us through some dreadful, unwanted journeys.

I love Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Though I would never sign up for a body-mind-soul Expedition Impossible like they have on television, I’m glad that I am on expedition through this world with God by my side. You can think of the Bible and the Holy Spirit as God’s rod and staff that comfort us through our troubling realities that are part of this world.

I realize that all the contestants, even the first ones to be sent home, felt that they accomplished something amazing by attempting the expedition. Why don’t I see my suffering the same way? So many days you will find me whining about the latest injustice that I have to face, rather than knowing that it is part of the journey. When I finally stop complaining about my personal bleeding ankles, I start to notice where the journey has taken me and what has been accomplished in me. I can get a glimpse of how my personal suffering has made me a better, stronger, more real person.

I’m only human so I will most likely continue to complain about my difficulties, but I think I will try to take in the view from the helicopter contestants and realize how far I have come with God’s help. Suffering makes you stronger, agonizing makes you weak. I want to accept the suffering that I cannot change and realize that I don’t have anything to agonize about because I am becoming better than I am through what I suffer.

 

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