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Women in Ministry - March/April 2008 Issue

Suffering

The Christian life is full of paradoxes. For example, the one who is last will be first, or the way to be great is to be the servant of all. Another is that children of an all-loving, all-powerful God sometimes undergo periods of suffering. A season of pain may take many forms: physical, relational, financial, emotional, religious persecution, etc. During such times, we can know in our heads that God hears and answers prayer, yet we may feel in our hearts that God is distant and unresponsive. Sometimes, despite our prayers, we continue to suffer. This is because prayer does not work according to a fixed formula: get your life in order, say the right words, and the answer will come. If that were true, Job would have avoided much suffering, Paul would have been relieved of his thorn in the flesh, and Christ would have been spared the cross.

Between the two questions “Does God answer prayer?” and “Will God answer my prayer?” lies a great pool of mystery. While wallowing in this mystery, which often includes suffering, it is important for us not to lose sight of the big picture. God is more important than any answer to any prayer. Oswald Chambers said, whenever our insistence is on the point that God answers prayer, we are off track. The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of His answer. It is God we must have. He is more than enough for all that we need.

While it may be easy to accept this after we have passed through suffering, sometimes it is not easy to when we are in the middle of it. If this is where you are, or if as a woman in ministry you are touching the lives of those who are suffering, our prayer is that the articles and resources in this update will encourage an unwavering assurance in God’s faithfulness, even as you and the people you minister to endure pain.

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