October 30, 2008
by Charles R. Swindoll
I've lived long enough to be convinced that suffering is not an enemy. It seems strange to put it this way, but the truth is, suffering is a friend. Not until we acknowledge that will we glean its benefits. Job is living in the crucible. His misery in that difficult arena has forced him to focus on things that really matter.
I have finally come to realize that one of the benefits of going through times of suffering is that my focus turns vertical. Charles Spurgeon, the great pulpiteer of London for so many years, was a flashpoint of controversy. The media of his day relished taking him on. They took advantage of a target that big. Normally he could hold his own, but there was one occasion when it began to get the best of him. All of us have our breaking points.
His wife noticed a depression that was lingering. She became concerned for him that he not lose his zeal and not miss the opportunities that were his while going through such hard times. That led her to do an unusual thing. She turned in her Bible to the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said:
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11--12)
In her own handwriting she wrote those words on a large piece of paper. She then taped it on the ceiling above their bed. When the preacher turned over the next morning, he awoke, blinked his eyes, and as he lay there he read those words. He read them again, aloud. He focused vertically on what God was saying, and it renewed him within. He pressed on with new passion. What a wonderful, creative idea Mrs. Spurgeon had!
Here's the point: when flat on your back, the only way to look is up. Focus on God, rather than on your pain. Become totally absorbed with thoughts of Him.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.