My evangelical friend is suffering, how can I help her understand?

My dear friend, a faithful protestant Christian, is suffering. She is a newlywed and her husband has had a stroke and is now disabled. How can I help her know that there is a purpose in suffering, that suffering is redemptive and can give God glory in her life?

Suffering is not very acceptable among the happy, clappy evangelicals that I used to be a part of. “Christ came that we might have life and have it abundantly,” is their response. When life doesn’t seem abundant, but difficult, so many protestants ditch their faith altogether. For me, I reverted to Catholicism, when my life didn’t make sense.

How can I reach out to encourage a protestant to accept suffering, even when it looks like there will be no end to it?

Colossians 1:24-26

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past.

Indeed, uniting our suffering to the cross of Christ can bring meaning to suffering, redemption, and advance the Kingdom. By embracing this cross, she can bear witness to the steadfast love of Christ for his Church through her steadfast and sacrificial love for her husband.

Thank you 1ke,
That was a beautiful answer.
It is completely biblical to rejoice in our sufferings.

First, be with her. Be her friend, visit, offer to give her a break so she can go do things - treat her like a friend, and don’t trickle away. Many times after a tragedy there is a big rush of support, then, as the weeks become months become years, the friends slip away.

For material, Father Groeschel speaks in a way that reaches out to all Christians.

He has done work on suffering, his book “Arise from Darkness: What to do when life doesn’t make sense”

or “There Are No Accidents” would be worth reading then passing on to her.

and the TV special “Suffering and What To Do With It”

I feel for her. That must be very tough to live with. I hope she becomes happy once again!

Thank you, I will check both of those out.

I must second the recommedation of Arise From Darkness by Father Groeschel. It’s one of the most wonderful books I’ve read in a loooong time.

This is one area where evangelicals are totally blind to scripture. The worth of suffering is EVERYWHERE in the NT. Here are some that were actually part of some Protestant counseling I did.

Hebrews 5

7During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Romans 5:2-4

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Romans 8

16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Future Glory
18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

2 Cor 1

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.

James 5

10Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

1 Peter 1

6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

And one of the major ones:

Hebrews 12

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”[a]

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13"Make level paths for your feet,"** so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.**

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