[Column] Befriend Suffering for Your Dream

Befriend Suffering for Your Dream

Written By Rev.Dr. Joshua Hong

Senior Pastor of Full Gospel Church of Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.

In the realization of dreams, undergoing the school of desert is required. Most of the great spiritual authorities are those who have studied in the tormenting, tearful school of desert. Rev. Kyung-jik Han, who founded and developed Korea’s first mega church, was diagnosed with tuberculosis shortly before the completion of his doctoral studies in the U.S. As a result, he had to put off his studies and received therapy at a Presbyterian convalescent home in New Mexico. As he prayed and meditated on the Word of God, he was trained on God’s callings. Two years later, he realized that God’s will was not the pursuit of doctoral studies. He then returned to Korea and founded Youngnak Church, the first mega-church in Korea.

When you proceed with God-given dreams, God will sometimes lead you to the paths you do not desire. Regardless of suffering and hardships, you must not be discouraged or despondent. You must think positively to yourself, “Suffering is a dream’s friend. Therefore, I should not think it odd that there comes suffering.” Most successful leaders have a positive outlook. Successful people and creative people have an excellent skill to transform difficulties in the past to the success in the future.

Rev. Yonggi Cho, the founder and now emeritus pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church, the largest congregation in the world, has also undergone the school of desert on many occasions. When the church construction was under way, he only had the equivalent of 1,000 dollars in the early 1970s. The construction began in the harshest circumstance and was about to cost one million dollars at that time. When laborers asked for money, he had to run way in bare feet. There are many unknown emotional stories of tears and sweat. However, it must be remembered that suffering does not end in itself but invites great blessings. Rev. Cho was not discouraged by financial strain. Instead, he started early morning prayers in an open-air tent. God poured His grace and gathered more people.  Building funds were gradually collected and the construction was eventually completed. Suffering is the process in preparation of our share of God’s blessings. It is important to overcome the difficulties arising from financial distress, relationships, work, marriage, and diseases through faith. Suffering strengthens us.

A farmer complained to God at harvest. “Would it be too much to ask if I say allow me to control weather? Then, I will reap more,” the farmer said.  God immediately answered, “All right then. I will let you control weather for one year.” The ecstatic farmer attended to farming and whenever he needed sunlight, he said, “I want sunlight. Please bring down upon me sunlight.” Soon the sun shone on the entire farm. When he needed rain, he said, “Bring down upon me the rain” and the rain wet the entire farm.

Time passed and harvest was just around the corner. As he went out to the field, he saw too many small and empty ears. Extremely frustrated, the farmer asked God, “Lord. Harvest is a disaster. I have nothing but small and empty ears. What happened?” God answered, “You didn’t want the wind, which strengthens the root and increases resistance to ensure the healthy growth of plants. Instead, you only wanted externals.” What do you think the wind is? Just as the wind is needed to ensure the harvest of full and healthy ears, we need suffering to be strengthened.

Another reason for suffering is that without it we think we accomplish our dreams solely with our power and wisdom. We do not ascribe glory to God. Why? Even if the dreams are given by God, we grow prideful when we believe that our own power realized our dreams. As we enter the path of suffering, we pray to and depend more upon God. Thus when our dreams are realized, we can ascribe all glory to God thinking, “This is not the work of my knowledge or power but of God.”  Without suffering, you can’t grow strong or realize God-given dreams. There is a proverb, “the longer a bird recoils, the higher it flies.” Do not be despondent even if you are in the state of “recoil.” God will bless you to fly higher after a prolonged period of recoil.

Dreams always finish the race of suffering. Let your suffering be your friend. And march forward toward your dreams as you depend on God who allowed your suffering. Design the dream of God in prayer and whatever suffering you have, proceed with faith. Never give up. God will bless your dream.

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