Lessons from the Sidelines: Suffering 101

I’ve been sidelined from normal daily activities due to my mid-summer accident and injury now for over 10 weeks. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the values of my suffering and setbacks, thanks to the promptings of my spiritual director and several conversations with my spiritual friends.
What are the values I’ve discovered?
First of all, when we suffer physical pain and/or injury, we are invited to consider afresh the suffering our Lord Jesus embraced in our behalf. If it weren’t for his obedience in suffering a painful death on the cross our salvation would not have been gifted to us by our generously loving Lord who willingly paid the price.
Secondly, when we suffer we need to trust that God knows with intimate detail all about our pain and heart ache. He empathizes with a compassionate love and desires more than anything to provide all we need to deal with our reality whether it will include healing or not.
Thirdly, when we suffer we become more empathetic toward others who also deal with physical or emotional ailments…either chronic or short term.
Fourth, we need to trust that God will watch over our lives, our comings and our goings, and will perform his good and perfect will in his time and in ways that he will orchestrate in our behalf…regardless of our physical condition.
Fifth, when we suffer physical hardships, we need to slow down and let our body heal organically and wait with patience for that to occur in a time frame that’s consistent with the human body’s natural capacities. And, we need to accept the help of others who desire to serve us with practical, emotional and spiritual support.
Sixth, as we suffer physically we need to remember our mortality and eventual death…these bodies of ours will eventually slow down and lie dormant as our “new bodies” are resurrected to eternal life.
Seventh, in all circumstances we need to remember to hold fast to hope and a future with joy!
It’s one thing to be sidelined from activity, and another altogether to be off the field with no hope at all…what other lessons have you learned along the way as suffering has entered your experience and taught you to trust the Lord in an ever-deepening way?

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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.