Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering “stinks,” and it’s hard to understand why these things happen. Sadly, in our world we will see or go through pain, suffering, and hardships. I think this is why we have the Book of Job– we can see from Job’s example that no matter what happens in our life that we are to continue to praise God. Yes, it is hard to praise God when things feel like they are falling apart but when there is nothing or no one else, God is still there, and there is also the body of Christ.

The Bible tells us to “…pray for each other...” (James 5:16, NIV), and to “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Gal 6:2, NIV). As Christians, we are all the body of Christ, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it…” (1 Cor 12:26, NIV).

I think there are some people who are afraid that they will not know what to say to someone who is suffering, or maybe they are uncomfortable seeing someone’s pain and hardship. I have found that most of the time, people who are suffering just need a hug– no words, just a hug.

If you are experiencing hardships, pain, and/or suffering, then I hope that you have found someone to walk with you in your suffering; and if you have suffered in the past, then I hope that you will walk with someone who is in pain (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

Copyright © 2018 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

The True Church

I think many Christians would agree that life can be difficult and that we will all struggle with something at one time or another, but often people do not realize that those “in the ministry” suffer from the same struggles.

To some degree, those in ministry suffer from depression, anxiety, fears, etc. Most times, people in ministry will not admit that they struggle because they are afraid of what people will think about them—that maybe they will think less of them.

The truth, though, is that there are people in the Bible who struggled—for example, Elijah the Prophet, and Paul the Apostle. Experiencing some of the struggles that people in the congregation encounters is a great way for those in ministry to connect. I think it also helps the congregation to realize that they are not the only ones struggling, and that just because they are struggling it doesn’t mean that they are less of a Christian.

We are told to “carry each other’s burdens” (Gal 6:2) and to “encourage one another” (2 Thess 5:11). These Scriptural passages would not be in the Bible if personal struggles were not a part of our lives. So in our struggles, we should turn to one another for encouragement and support. We should also draw closer to God: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). We have to do both—draw closer to one another and to draw closer to God.

Perhaps if people were more open about their struggles and we supported one another through these struggles then we can have the True Church—“All the believers were one in heart and mind… And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all” (Acts 4:32-33).

Be the “True Church”!

Copyright © 2016 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Confrontation

Someone mentioned to me that confrontation is difficult for them. It’s true that no one wants to be a “bad guy” and most of us want to make people happy. But there are times when we have to confront people. There’s a way to do this that is loving and uplifting. Here’s what I shared with that person:

“You can use the “sandwich technique” when confronting someone— say something positive, say something negative, then say something positive.

For example, you need to confront someone about their viewing of pornography. You would start with, “___, you do so much to help people and I know that your heart is to serve God.

It has come to my attention that you have been viewing pornography. This is a sin—a sin against other people, but most especially a sin against God. Viewing pornography distorts how you see women/men and it corrupts your heart. You are valuable to God and He loves you. He wants you to stop sinning. We have a group of men/women who meet and they are accountable to one another. I want you to join that group and I want you to find a person that you can be completely honest and accountable to. I want to follow up with you every week just to see how you are doing. I want you to also confess this sin to your wife/husband so she/he can help you through this process.

I love you as a sister/brother and I want you to flourish as a Christian. Most importantly, God loves you.”

I used pornography as an example only because, unfortunately, it’s so prevalent in our society— what a horrible tool of Satan, tarnishing and defiling the image of God (the human body) that God, Himself, created! Sadly, Satan has enticed both men and women in this sin.

Anyway, the point is, we need to confront people when we see that they are heading in the wrong direction. We do this because we love them. When we confront people, we do it with love (Ephesians 4:15) and humility (Galatians 6:1). We need to help one another get through this desert called “life” until we get to the Promise Land which is Heaven.

 

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Words from a “toe”

I have to admit that for most of my marriage I competed with my husband. Even though we were supposed to be a “team” and people saw us as a team, we really were not a team. It wasn’t until a couple decades later that one of my professors noted, “You need to work as a team and I’m not sure you’re doing that.”

I was always competitive and I always felt like I had to “prove” myself. I suppose it was because of my low self-esteem and terrible upbringing—in order to get any attention or recognition, I had to do well but even then my “good” wasn’t good enough.

In the back of my mind I kept thinking that my husband really didn’t love me—that he wanted me to be someone I wasn’t, and that I was a disappointment to him. These self-defeating thoughts had put an invisible wedge between us and it prevented me from truly loving him.

When we were working on our doctoral degree, my husband made better grades and he didn’t have to really study, people also liked him more. I resented him for it. Then when he had finished writing his dissertation and he graduated before me, I was upset. Yes, I was glad that he graduated, but I was angry that I didn’t graduate before him or with him. I felt like he won and I lost.

It seemed that nothing was going “right” for me after that—I didn’t have good guidance from my advisor and I didn’t really have a passion for what I was studying; most of the time I wondered why I was even in school.

Looking back, I realized that the problem was in my heart. I was being envious and jealous when I really should have been joyous and happy for my husband; yes, he is much smarter than me, and he is much more extraverted than I am. I felt that my attitude reflected the principles found in 1 Corinthians 12—basically, I was a toe who thought I should have been a hand.

Then I thought about Romans 9:20-21 which says, “…Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?” (NLT).  I took this to mean that I wanted to be as smart as my husband and as outgoing as he but I wasn’t, and instead of being resentful about it and thinking of him as “my competition,” I needed to find peace with who I am.

It is true that I am not as smart or as outgoing as my husband, and whether that’s a result of “nurture” or “nature” (how I was raised or what my genetic makeup is), it doesn’t matter. I need to find the positive things that God has created within me.

I think sometimes bitterness happens when we want something that we don’t have— “What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have… You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them… Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you” (James 4:1-2, Hebrews 12:15).

That one statement from my professor made me realize that my marriage would never be truly peaceful and loving as long as I allowed myself to be jealous of the gifts my husband had. I may not get recognition for the things that I do (and often my husband gets the recognition for them), but I’m OK with that—that’s what it means to be a “helpmate” (Genesis 2:18). I can honestly say that I am very proud of the man my husband is today, and I am happy that my talents and abilities support him.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti