The Suffering

“Is there anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray.” James 5:13
One of my least favorite locker room signs has always been, “No pain! No gain!” It pointed the way to a long, hard road, and the journey never ended well.
Every coach said something along the lines of, “I’m not here to hurt you. I am here to help you, BUT I am going to give you what you need, not what you want.” They promised my temporary pain would lead to ultimate victory. They promised me what they were doing to me was going to be good for me. They said, “Trust the process.” They didn’t tell me that pain couldn’t put in what God left out.
My athletic career reads like a Greek tragedy, so I write this from personal experience. Winning and losing both require a team effort. I admit, I learned a great deal more from losing, than I did from winning. If character is developed by losing then mine must be impeccable. Go team!
James asks what appears to be a rhetorical question, but it requires a response from you, and an answer from God. Suffering endlessly through a hopeless situation rarely develops character. It robs you of joy, and blinds you to the purpose of what seems to be an utterly senseless walk in the dark. Believing prayer provides you with a sense of direction when your face the senseless.
There is no question about it. Everyone who is carrying out genuine, authentic, Biblically based ministry today is enduring hardship, facing trouble, enduring affliction, or experiencing evil.  The Biblical narrative reminds us that suffering is as much a part of the ministry as blessing.  Ministry is not conducted in the absence of suffering.  It is fulfilled in the face of it, and in spite of it.
“But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5
“Then he must pray!” Prayer is presented as a combination of two words. The Greek prefix is a preposition that changes the direction and the intention of the rest of the word. The second part of the word means, “I would wish.”
By adding the preposition to a word that already means, a wish or a prayer, a “Wish List” becomes a “Prayer List.” It turns the “I would wish” meaning of prayer away from fantasy and towards faith.  Prayer refocuses the eyes of the child. Genuine prayer turns a selfish, self-absorbed child into an obedient child. Prayer transforms the act of prayer from “I would wish” into “Thy will be done.”
No matter how long it takes or how senseless the suffering may appear to be, prayer turns “I will” into “Thy will.” Believing prayer is not a matter of  “I would wish.” It leads to “Thy will be done.” This only happens…EVERY TIME.
Note to Self: When you face suffering focus on the face of The Father, and come to Him in the name of The Son. Stop searching for answers by examining your own navel. When you pray remember the old song, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” You will find the words are still true. “Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”  TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!