The School of Suffering

  • March 30, 2015
  • #8586

Joni’s friend Rika lives with severe, chronic pain. But she holds on to the example of Jesus, who willingly drank from the cup of suffering.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with encouraging words about suffering.

Over the years, I have made a list of people I pray for who live with chronic pain. Bless their hearts, some of them have degenerative disk disease, severe fibromyalgia, two women have complex regional pain syndrome, and a few men just a lot of hardware and screws and rods in their back from former surgeries. Well, after a year or so of praying for these individuals, I realized that they all needed to meet each other; they needed to hear each other’s stories and get to know each other, because they all have encouraging things to say. And so, I started a private pain pal page on Facebook. Now, you’ve got to understand, that some of these people were clueless about Facebook; they didn’t want their stories to be out there for all to see. But I assured them that this page had private settings.

And so, over the last few months, these pain pals have been posting not only their prayer requests, you know, upcoming surgeries and questions about pain management, but they have been posting pain, just to read the latest insights someone has gleaned from God's Word; wonderful quotations from saints of old, and scriptures. I tell you, I love visiting this page when I am in pain—just to read the latest insights someone ahs gleaned form God’s Word.

The other day, I was reading a post by a pain pal named Rika – Rika is virtually bedridden with pain and suffers daily with it. She has so for years. Although Rika lives all the way over in South Africa, it feels like she’s so near because of Facebook. Anyway, the Bible verse that she used to describe herself was from John chapter 18, verse 11 where Jesus says, “The cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?” Wow! What a statement of humility and acceptance! Rika understands that her painful disability is from her heavenly Father’s hand, and so, drink it, she must—willingly. As from the heart! I tell you that spoke so powerfully to me.

Rika then shared a few insights on that verse from Dr. Charles Parkhurst. He explains that it was a greater thing for Jesus to say and do that, then to calm the seas or raise the dead. He wrote, “Prophets and apostles could work wondrous miracles, but they could not always do and suffer the will of God. To do and suffer God’s will is still the highest form of faith, the most sublime Christian achievement. To have the brightest aspirations of a young life forever blasted; to bear a daily burden never congenial and to see no relief; to be fettered by some incurable physical disability; to be able to say in such a school of discipline, 'The cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?’… This is faith at its highest. Great faith is exhibited not so much in ability to do, as in the ability to suffer."

To do and suffer God’s will is Rika’s calling, it is her highest form of faith, her most sublime Christian achievement. Hers is a ministry of suffering. But James chapter 1, verse 12 is in her sights, where it says “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” The crown of life is Rika’s, for sure. Friend, the Father has given you a cup and I hope and pray that you can drink it without complaining. Can you? Will you? And if you know others who are facing the same pain and hurt you are, then you think about starting your own Pain Pal Page on Facebook. It would be a true ministry of suffering, helping others do God's will through their suffering. Something that your Savior did for you.

© Joni and Friends


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