Revelation of Suffering
The Book of Revelation reveals the message of human suffering, especially as a result of aging:
“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” (Revelation 2:10)
Likewise, you should not let yourself not finding a perfect church be your excuse for not attending one. No church is perfect because all humans are imperfect, including all pastors, priests, and clergymen. So, you may still find your victor’s crown in a church you choose to attend in order to receive God’s messages to become a believer.
Your aging inevitably leads to your suffering and your overall weakness. But the revelation of your suffering and weakness is to let you see the wisdom of waiting for God’s timing to help you conquer evil with love, confront violence with gentleness, as well as trust and obey God to overcome all your suffering and weakness that you have experienced throughout your aging process.
Suffering from Aches and Pains
Your aging may cause you many physical aches and pains in bones, joints, and muscles, as well as in different body organs due to diseases and infections. Taking drugs and therapies may only alleviate but never eradicate all your aches and pains.
A believer’s perception of physical pain is often less intense in the presence of God, especially when he or she remembers how Jesus too suffered His own physical pain on the Cross. So, becoming a believer may change your own perception and tolerance of aches and pains.
Suffering from Identity Crisis
Some seniors may feel they have been discarded by their families as worthless, and further aggravated by their abuse in nursing homes. Indeed, many seniors feel they have lost their own identity.
But God is always on the oppressed, just as Jesus said: “Do not fear, little flock, for your Father took delight to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
The Book of Revelation points out that living in an alien world with alien values, deeply involving in spiritual warfare against beasts and dragons, the redemptive power of suffering for a believer is hope and joy, because God is always with them.
So, becoming a believer, you belong to God, and you are one of His children.
Suffering from Marital Unhappiness
As aging continues, your spouse may have died ahead of you. The loss of spouse often causes loneliness and unhappiness.
In addition, aging may make you reflect with guilt and remorse on your past failed marriages and divorces due to infidelity or other marital problems.
A believer believes that the love of God is now everything.
Suffering from Relationship Disharmony
Aging often provides an opportunity for you to look back into the past. In the process, you may be awakened to why you had poor relationships with your parents, your children, your grandchildren, your friends, and your colleagues. Regret and remorse may continue to haunt you even as your aging continues.
A believer, on the other hand, is blessed with the gift of imperfections, which is the capability to see the imperfections in self, as well as in others. Nobody is perfect, except God!
Suffering from Failures and Frustrations
Throughout your lifespan, like everybody else, you must have experienced failures and frustrations in the pursuit of your careers, your passions, and even your dreams. Not coping with the realities of life may have made your suffering continue into your elderly years.
But a believer knows that success and failure co-exist, complementing each other in the eyes of God, who is in control of everything in your life, even in your elderly years.
Suffering from Loss of Possessions
Loss of material possessions can be due to natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires; and economic downturns, such as bankruptcy, foreclosure, poor investment, and unemployment. Downsizing is problematic to many seniors.
A believer now learns that letting go of anything is letting God control everything.
“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your own shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” (Revelation: 3:18)
So, only through your own suffering you may then attain the righteousness that answers the demands of God's law and justice, or you will perish just like other sinners.
On the Cross crucified next to Jesus, one of the two thieves challenged Jesus by saying if He was the Messiah, He would end his suffering by bringing him down from the Cross. The other thief, instead of challenging and disbelieving, was penitent, and Jesus said to him: "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
So, suffering in any form is the first condition as well as the first requirement for a non-believer to become a believer. But why is suffering so important for the transition from a non-believer to a believer?
Imagine this: You are a “good” person, coming from “good” parents. You receive a “good” education leading to a “good” career. You have a “good” marriage, with “good” children, growing up into “good” adults. You have “good” health and live to a “good” ripe old age.
All of the above is living in fancy and fantasy. Living in reality is living in a world of sins and evils. You may be a “good” person, trying to do all the right things, instead of committing sins and doing evils as many others do. But the people around you may be doing all the sinful and evil things to you and your family. The result is that your life journey will then have many detours and sidetracks leading to your own suffering, whether you like it or not. So, without suffering, a non-believer may never turn to God, thinking that he or she is a “good” person.
The bottom line: We all suffer, with no exception. You may think you are lying on a bed of roses, but it has many sharp thorns. So, you have only two options: turning to God to become a believer, letting Him deal with your suffering; or remaining a non-believer, coping with your suffering in your own way.
Having said the above, it does not mean that becoming a believer will eliminate all your suffering.
The truth is that human suffering is to be embraced and endured--but not to be eliminated as a condition of believing in God--because suffering provides all humans with both justice and sanctification. Remember, your suffering is not permanent. Just be patient and persevere in praying, and you will earn the Crown of Life, as promised in the Book of Revelation.
“1The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who testifies to everything he saw--that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.“ (Revelation 1:1-2)
What God reveals to humans will always remain mysterious and inexplicable. That is why the Book of Revelation is the “revelation” of Jesus Christ. He reveals God’s mysterious plans to humans because He was once a human too and had lived in the physical world for many years; so He understood human behavior and thinking, and that was why He died on the Cross to demonstrate the need of human suffering as the only pathway to human salvation.
So, to become a believer, you must suffer, because Jesus demonstrated how and why He had to suffer for you.
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