I am doing a series of Bible studies on suffering by Rosemary Bardsley. I basically did a search and came upon these studies. There are 12 of them all together, and I'm only on number 2, and already have been profoundly affected.
I think the thing that struck me the most (and oddly, something I already knew), is her words about suffering being an ABNORMAL part of the world. Now, when I say I knew this, I mean in the sense that suffering exists because we live in a fallen world, etc.
But the author goes into DETAIL about this. For example, in the normal world, everything God created was "very good." In the normal world, because humans were made in God's image, they reflected his "character and glory." In the normal world, work was a blessing, marriage was fulfilling and satisfying, there was no killing (this was before animal sacrifice for sin, before Cain killed Able, even before men killed animals to eat). In the normal world, there was no shame.
From What People Say About Suffering, by Rosemary Bardsley:
"Our Sovereign God created a world that was very good, in which the words "sickness" and "suffering" and "poverty" had no meaning, because there was none.... At that point sin, and along with it, suffering, entered the world. That suffering is here because of sin is obvious. Why God, who is powerful, good and loving, permitted sin, is not so obvious. But it is obvious in the Bible that the present condition of the world...is not the way God created it to be, and is not the way it will be. We live in a time that is "in between"-neither the original or the eventual.... [Suffering] has no permanent right to be here. It has no ultimate power or authority. It is not greater than the Owner of the world, nor can it turn Him aside from His purpose. Indeed, so great is the gulf between His power and its power that He takes it in His hands and makes use of it in His eternal plans."
Mmm-Hmmm! Can I get an AMEN!! God takes suffering in His hands and makes use of it in His eternal plans. Do you know what that means? Because I suffer, I am part of God's eternal plan. Because YOU suffer, YOU are part of God's eternal plan.
What could be more important than that??? Those who suffer are being used for eternity. This, this life, this world that we populate, that we "live" in, for now....it's NOTHING. It's a fleeting moment in the grand scheme of things. It's not the original created perfect world, nor is it the world that will be when Christ returns.
We are truly waiting....but while we wait, let's DO something. Let's ALLOW God to use our suffering for eternity. Let's ALLOW ourselves to be instruments that play music that may be the only harmony some people ever hear.