Guest Post: For Those Who Are Struggling, Suffering, and Crushed

God must love the blues. 
There’s a whole book in the Bible called Lamentations. The largest swath of Psalms are the laments. And don’t forget the book of Job. God seems ok with suffering. Us? Not so much. Yet, suffering is a required course on the syllabus of following Jesus. The writer of Hebrews says this about Jesus and suffering: "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered" (Hebrews 5:8). If Jesus learned through suffering, how much more is there for us to learn? Currently, we live in a Christian culture that embraces the happy parts of the Gospel (like Heaven), but not so much the promised pain, suffering, and lamenting that come to all who aspire to follow Jesus. This post below dares to wrestle with the vexatious topic of suffering. As you will see, Kevin Shrock is no stranger to suffering. The cliche’ "God will never give you more than you can handle" is about to be challenged. And yes, there is redemption. So read on. This post will point you to hope, whose name is Jesus. And Jesus said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
—Bill Allison, May 28, 2023

This guest post by Kevin Schrock is for anyone who is struggling, suffering, and feeling crushed. "Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord is with you all." 2 Thessalonians 3:16

   Every word of this account is true.

   All was lost.

   Howling winds buffeted the tiny raft, threatening to capsize it, while rain and sleet burned the man's eyes. His every fiber strained to keep the jagged cliffs at bay, as the wind's incessant cackle mocked him, "All is lost. All is death." Renewing his effort would drown out the din for a time, but weariness would overtake him, and he would crumble once again, with the wind continuing its cruel call. Years had passed, blending into one another, but always following the same cycle. Maybe it would be easier to give in. He never made any headway, never would. Maybe he should just let the wind and the current carry him into the pass where the darkness reigned; where despair would turn his heart to stone.

   Beyond the swirling darkness, he caught glimpses of the Mountain. It promised rest from the storm, but he knew the only way to that Rest was through the vicious pass, known as Satan's Knife. The ravenous, black maw, of that insatiable beast, would undoubtedly devour him. Broken pieces of the pathetic float, dragged along by frayed lines, were a constant reminder that he had no hope of negotiating the pass. The wind and waves would mercilessly smash him and the shoddy raft against the razor-sharp spikes. He would be utterly broken, helpless on some forgotten shore, unable to care what became of him or anyone he loved.

   He dismissed the thought and took up his oar.

   "Turn to the King," some had said. "Cry out to Him!" But how could he turn to the One who had wounded him so deeply. That pain is what drove him to this isolated existence in the first place. Even the thought of turning to the King caused the Searing Ember's grasp to tighten.

   How long had he carried it now? 8 years?

   The funeral pyre reentered His mind, filling his vision. His Father, who had proclaimed the Good News of the King of the Mountain for so many years, lay in the growing pile of ash. And that's all that was left. Ash. All at once, he had lost his Father, his mentor, his friend.

   Just as the solemn ceremony ended, a single, tiny Ember floated down and touched his chest. He cried out in anguish, a cry that he had never known. That one flame tore through his flesh, encased his heart, and consumed him. It stole his breath, rendering him unable to stand, unable to move, and sent pain ripping through his body in waves. The Ember wrenched him down into an intolerable pit, holding the memory of his Father captive, and leaving the man trapped in despair; a prisoner to this living death. It wrapped his inmost being in fire, burning him every time he remembered his Father or thought about the Mountain. Every memory, every joy, every hope, was reduced to painful, charred remains.

   Worse, the Ember's destruction was spreading to his loved ones. How long before his young children would see the shadow in his eyes? How long had his loving wife endured his inability to receive or return her affection?

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* When you want to quit and give up.

* When you are discouraged.

* God will always give you more than you can handle.

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