Finding hope through suffering
by Jacob, SIM Asia
8 February 2017
I often forget what it means for someone to live without hope. Our true hope is often revealed through suffering. Jesus has called us to suffer and "have the same concern for each other" so that "if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it."
We experience our own suffering and that of others for the purpose of displaying His glory and revealing a future Hope. (From 1 Corinthians 12:25-26; Romans 8:24-25)
Below, you will find three short stories of people whose lives we enter into, in hope of sharing in their suffering and directing them toward a lasting hope in Jesus.
More than a year ago a friend named Mark* came over to study the Word with me once a week. I believe he understood the truth and desired to follow. It ended abruptly due to some political images sent through his social media account. After this, he was ordered to not communicate with foreigners. I've not seen or heard from him since then.
Several weeks ago, a close friend of mine came over one evening and told us his wife left and took their daughter. He was tense and he tried to make it sound less hopeless than it actually was. Three months had already passed. He's been hanging out in coffee shops and sleeping at his parents' house because it's too painful for him to go home alone. We prayed together asking that God would mend his broken marriage.
Zack* messaged me and said, "I failed." His parents remind him every day that he fails to meet their expectations. And he believes it. He studied for an exam night and day for two months in order to begin a career that would please them and he didn't pass. One evening in our home, I went to the whiteboard and drew a map of his life. The big circle in the middle said, "Zack's Life" and the outer web of connected circles had stuff like, "Tax Job, Police Job, Girlfriend, Parents, New Business, New City, and Purpose" - a bunch of options, problems, and potential solutions. After an hour or so of writing out ideas for each one, he looked at the board and asked, "Do you think religion is the answer to my problems?" I responded, "No, no it's not. But if you follow Jesus, you will have a purpose." The only circle on the board without anything written was "Purpose." Funny, it was the only one he cared about.
As of recently, Mark from story #1 may enter our lives again. My other friend Adam has asked him to meet us and teach us the local language. Please pray this is the right thing to do and that he will not get in trouble with the authorities.
As of now, the marriage from story #2 is on the mend and they are making plans to reunite this coming week. We hope to work through a marriage series with them in the near future.
Zack's parents from story #3 either hid or threw out his book I gave him in his own language called the Purpose Driven Life. I really feel he could be close to following Jesus in spite of their opposition.
*Not his real name