“Self-Imposed Suffering”

“And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the Lord.”  Judges 6:6 English Standard Version (ESV)

“Our heavenly Father understands our disappointment, suffering, pain, fear, and doubt. He is always there to encourage our hearts and help us understand that He’s sufficient for all of our needs. When I accepted this as an absolute truth in my life, I found that my worrying stopped.”   Charles Stanley

My Mother suffered greatly due to physical afflictions, especially later in her life.

She developed macular degeneration, which ultimately stole the effectiveness of her sight, rendering her legally blind. She also struggled for years with Paget’s disease. In people with Paget’s disease, there is an abnormal breakdown of bone tissue in specific areas. This is followed by abnormal bone formation where the new area of bone is larger, but weaker. In my Mother’s case, the disease was in her spine and it was accompanied by severe pain. In addition, she suffered spinal stenosis for years which caused a pathway housing nerves to narrow, putting pressure on those nerves causing still more pain.

At times, the combined effect was quite debilitating and most assuredly detracted considerably from the quality of the last 10-15 years of her life. Yes, my Mother suffered physically, and it was often painful to watch, but had done nothing to bring that suffering upon herself, and there was little, if anything she could have done to prevent it.

That was not the case with me.

It is extremely difficult for me to look in the rearview mirror of my life and find many places where I suffered in which the suffering was not brought on by myself. From the place I called ‘home’ for a little over 4 years – the Oakdale Federal Correctional Institution – I could finally see with clarity the tremendous negative impact that my willful disobedience to God had on my life over the preceding 40 years.

But don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming God, and I am not saying that God punished me for being disobedient to Him.

He didn’t have to. I managed quite well on my own. Living a sinful lifestyle rained suffering down on me that was strictly a result of the lifestyle itself, not God’s reaction to that lifestyle.

Being self-centered, self-indulgent, self-absorbed, and self-destructive leads us to activities and actions that can have severe negative physical and emotional effects on us. Living impulsive lives where consequences and other people are ignored may provide us with the instant gratification we seek, but eventually our luck runs out and it suddenly becomes time to ‘pay the piper’.

And then we suffer.

Some of us drink, and sometimes we drink too much. Some of us drive after we have been drinking. Sometimes we drive after only having had ‘one or two’ drinks, but some of us have driven home so intoxicated we wake up the next day and think it is a miracle we made it home safely. Sometimes we get arrested for drunk driving. Sometimes someone gets killed.

And then we suffer.

Some of us indulge in recreational drug use. Many of us become addicted or dependent upon those drugs. Sometimes our jobs are affected by that abuse. Sometimes our families are destroyed because of that abuse. Sometimes people die as a result of that abuse.

And then we suffer.

Rather than build a relationship with God from which all other relationships can then flow, some of us succumb to temptations of the flesh, building meaningless, empty relationships. We live immoral, promiscuous lives. We turn to pornography because it is ‘acceptable’ in the eyes of our society. Sometimes relationships are destroyed. Sometime families are broken up and thrown into chaos. Sometimes uncontrolled rage caused by jealousy enters the picture and people are physically hurt. Sometimes people are even killed as a result of the offending behavior.

And then we suffer.

Just like the people of Israel, God tells us how to live our lives, but we don’t listen, and if we do listen, we only seem to remember what He teaches us until we become comfortable with ourselves again. Once that comfort level is reached, we regain confidence in our own ability to run our lives and the cycle begins again for us just as it did repeatedly with the Israelites.

For many of us, the reality that much of our suffering is self-imposed may be a tough reality to face, but God can help us to see that fact and, more importantly, He can then help us to use that suffering to move forward with our lives in a positive manner and in a way that gives Him glory.

About Tony Casson

" For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)
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One Response to “Self-Imposed Suffering”

  1. Diane W says:

    Matthew 7:7-8 New International Version (NIV)

    Ask, Seek, Knock
    7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

    Like

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