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Empathy for a friend

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I have a friend who suffers a lot. He is not an old guy, but it seems like his body is old before its time. He has the kind of dogged health problems that when one symptom gets better, another infirmity breaks out.

When one procedure is complete, something else needs to be done just to keep him going. And through it all, he maintains a good attitude, though it must wear thin at times. Not being able to do the things he wants to do and needs to do grates on his nerves, as he battles pain and tries to cope with daily activities that most of us take for granted.

Why so many health problems? No one knows. It may be the wear and tear of a heavy work load and a busy life. It may be a genetic predisposition for certain problems, but whatever the cause, the suffering is real.

Since he seldom is able to make it to church services, he misses the fellowship of his fellow Christians, and the messages that are given each Sabbath. One of his goals is to get well enough to regularly attend church services and Bible studies.

It certainly brings to mind the words of the Apostle Paul when he said: "And if one member suffers, all the members suffer…" (1 Corinthians 12:26). Paul's life was one of self-sacrifice and hardship, as he worked hard to spread the Good Message of the Kingdom of God. He wrote: "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10). Now, it takes a deeply converted attitude to take that approach to suffering, but Paul had the big picture in mind and he knew how it would all turn out.

How does it all turn out in the end? Is there a divine purpose being worked out that involves each and every one of us? An understanding of the Scriptures found in the Bible reveals the answer, and it is a resounding, "Yes!"

There are promises in the Bible that bring some consolation here and now. Romans 8:28 states: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." And, we can know that there is a limit to what we will have to go through. "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Going all the way to the culmination of God's plan for mankind, we see a wonderful time foretold in these words: "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4).

So, as we agonize with our friend, as we pray for relief in his life, we know that ultimately, he, along with all mankind, will have the opportunity to be a part of a wonderful Kingdom in which there will be no more pain. My friend understands this and has set his sights on that time and place. It gives him hope, as it should all of us.

If you would like to know more about this incredible plan; if you would like to share in this great hope, you can request our booklet Your Ultimate Destiny. You can order it free of charge at www.tomorrowsworld.org.

You'll be glad you did.

  Originally Published: 20th December 2007