In episode 113, we find ourselves in a new series, "Sitting in suffering".  How do we hold to hope when the hardship seems too much and God seems too distant?  Lauren had been authentically seeking God when things began to hit -- the loss of a friend, unexplained pain, the loss of a relationship -- and at the hardest moment she found herself questioning God, something she never wanted to do.  It was in this questioning, though, that she discovered her doubt wasn't in the true God, and that He was actually with her, at work on abundantly more.

How might God be inviting you to see Him accurately?

In episode 114, Tricia Roos shares the difficult story of receiving devastating news during a pregnancy, and making the difficult choice to persevere against the odds.  Her story prompts a hard question: what if God is inviting us to allow our wishes and desires to change?  Afterall, some of the most painful moments amidst suffering is when the desires of our heart aren't met.  However, if God has infinite wisdom and desires full life for us, there may be something unexpected in store, if we are willing to embrace the desires of His heart.

What wishes might God be inviting you to change?

In episode 115, Saroya Brown shares her story of being homeless for two years, but very quickly it escalated into so much more.  Saroya knows what it means to sit in suffering, and knows what it is like to feel unseen in the midst.  If you've ever felt unseen, you know how much heavier it can make the suffering.  However, through her journey Saroya came to learn she was seen by God, and that changed everything.

How has God let you know He sees you?

In episode 116, Thola Bennie shares of a hard season she recently navigated.  In the midst, we discovered that one thing that made it so hard is the "deceit of normalcy".  Whether it was in her own mind or through the expectations of others, a pressure to be and pursue what is "normal" could easily intensify the hardships.  What if our pursuit of "normal" is actually impeding our ability to experience God in the midst of suffering?

How has God invited you into "abnormality"?

In episode 117, Danielle Bernock brings us back to a topic we sat with in the "Healing series": rejection.  Sometimes suffering can end up feeling heavier because of the sense of rejection; this was true for Danielle, as in her childhood she felt rejected both at home and in church.  That rejection sat with her, leading her to believe God had rejected her as well; the truth was, He had been with her in her loneliest moments.  Her story confronts us on a hard truth: sometimes our sense of rejection can cause us to reject the God who is with us. 

How has God shown He is with you?

In episode 118, Christian Bohlen's story presses us into a unique space in this series.  We've heard stories of suffering being thrust upon someone, but what about the moments when we choose to remain in the suffering of another?  For Christian, it was choosing to remain in a difficult marriage after realizing his wife struggled with significant mental health challenges, even when the impact on him could be severe.  While voices around him and in his own mind told him to leave, God invited him to stay.  This was not an easy invitation, but has led to a decades-long story that will encourage any who are choosing to remain in the suffering of another.

How has God equipped you to remain in hard spaces?

 

In episode 119, Tiffany Moore and I were initially going to explore how offense can lead us to sit in suffering, but God wanted to press us deeper.  We don't want to admit it, but focusing on the offense of the offender can make it easy for us to blame others... but what if the problem is us?  What if God has given us access to a super power that allows us to "take captive every thought", even in the hardest of situations, even when the offender doesn't change?

How has God helped you take thoughts captive?

 

 

In episode 120, Wendy Wallace shares the powerful story of her life being utterly changed by an unexpected flesh-eating bacteria.  As a result of a quadruple-amputation, a long list of impossibilities was thrust upon her by others and her own mind.  However, she resolved to remove a word from her vocabulary: "can't".  "Can't" can lead our suffering to feel more unbearable, and Wendy invites us to lean into the God who can do the impossible. 

What is God inviting you to stop saying "can't" to?

 

In episode 121, Diana Winkler shares a story of suffering that spans decades, and in the process presses us into the concept of "long-suffering".  Bible translations often swap this term out for "patience", but the former evokes something deeper, something prolonged, something intentional.  In fact, it's a fruit of the Spirit, and we learn from Diana it was the Spirit's capacity, not hers, that got her through, particularly when the Church and her spouse failed to be the support she longed for.

How has God met you in long-suffering?

 

In episode 122, Roger Butts helps us explore how we can create space for those sitting in suffering.  Having served as a Chaplain and Minister, he has often chosen to journey with individuals in incredibly hard spaces, including on the cusp of death.  He's learned how much we can bring to the table in those moments -- how distracting and even destructive that can be -- and how each of us actually has the capacity to care for others, no matter our situation.  Each of us can create space.

How has God invited you to create space for others?

 

In episode 123, Jim Barnard never wanted to be "a suffering guy", but three months into his marriage a mysterious health issue in his wife changed everything.  Jim presses us deeper into the experience of the caregiver, and he's as candid about his disdain for the suffering as he is about his confidence in the goodness of God.  God did not "fix" his wife, and yet somehow they are living in the midst of "abundantly more", chief of which is Jim's deepening understanding of THE Suffering Guy.

How has God invited you to share in the sufferings of Christ?

 

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