Suffering is an interesting thing. We all try to avoid it like the plague, and when it comes along for a season in our lives, we wish so badly for that season to be over with. It’s interesting though, that the bible tells us repeatedly to expect suffering in this world. Not only that, but it says to “rejoice in our sufferings”!
- Romans 5:3-5 ~ More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
- James 1: 2-4 ~Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
- 1 Peter 4: 12-13 ~Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
Now, anyone who has truly gone through a season of suffering knows that “rejoicing” in suffering is probably the last thing we think about doing when we are hurting. However, if we look at the many different bible verses on suffering, it becomes clear that God doesn’t mean that we should be happy about the pain itself, but more so about the fact that times of suffering have a purpose, and that they can become something of such beauty and glorification of our amazing Father.
Whether it be to strengthen our relationship with Him, increase our dependence on Him, to mold us to become more Christ like, or something entirely different, suffering can have a positive outcome and work for our good, which is exactly what God wants for us. I don’t know about you, but yeah, I see that as a reason to “rejoice” when I am suffering – I know that it is a precursor to something amazing that will bring glory to God and work towards my good.
If I’m being honest, when I first got sick about 5 years ago, I was confused, hurt, and very very angry…and this was on top of the suffering I was going through physically and mentally due to being sick! I didn’t understand why God would let this happen to me – I wasn’t a bad person (I mean sure, I have my flaws, but what ragamuffin doesn’t?), and I thought His promise was to work all things for my good…how could this be good?
Thankfully, I had about 3-4 years of intense suffering to really work through my thoughts on the subject. Yeah, you read that right, I said thankfully – even though I was so angry at first, now I am so grateful for all I’ve been through (even the flare-ups that I still get from time to time) and how close it has brought me to Papa. It’s one of my biggest blessings in this life, and I couldn’t have gotten that blessing without going through the trials I went through. I believe that it all comes down to this – He loves us way too much to let us be anything less than the best we can be.
Let me ask you a question. Imagine you are a parent (or if you are one, just imagine real life 🙂 ), and you go to the doctor for your child’s checkup. The doctor tells you that there is a new medical procedure that will allow your child to be the best that they can possibly be. If they don’t have the procedure, their life will be okay and they will be fine, but they won’t reach their full potential, and they will miss out on so many wonderful opportunities that they could have if they have the procedure. Basically without the procedure, they will have a mediocre okay life, but with the procedure, their life will be beyond amazing and the best it can possibly be. There is no way the procedure can fail if you choose to have it done for your child. However, these are the conditions.
- Your child will have to go through a period of great suffering.
- You will have complete control over the entire period of suffering and you will be able to make sure it doesn’t become too much for them to bare, but they have to go through it for the procedure to work.
- You will be there the entire time and will be overseeing the whole procedure knowing the outcome is the best possible thing for them. However, your child won’t be able to see you while they are suffering, and there will be times that the child feels as though you’ve abandoned them even though you are right there with them making sure they are safe and loved so dearly.
What do you choose? Procedure or no procedure? You know the procedure will allow them to live their best life possible. You know the suffering of your child is temporary, and you know you are always able to intervene to make sure it never destroys them or becomes too much for them. You know the outcome, and you know that the procedure is 100% effective. However, yes, your child would have to suffer in order for this procedure to work!
Personally, I would choose the procedure. I would want the best possible life for my child. It would be extremely hard and painful to watch my child suffer and it would kill me if they thought I had abandoned them even though I hadn’t (I’m sure this is how it is for Papa when any of His children are suffering), but I would know that my child is safe in my hands, the suffering will end, and when it does end, my child will be in a much better place than if they hadn’t gone through it.
This little analogy is what I’ve come up with while going through my own period of suffering as to why God allows suffering to happen. He wants what’s best for us, He already knows the outcome, and He will be with us, holding us and keeping us safe, all the way through the time of suffering. In looking at it this way, I also tend to welcome and accept periods of suffering more easily now, and I can do as He says and “rejoice” in suffering. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t like the actual suffering part (as a matter of fact, I downright despise it), but I know I’m in good Hands that will never fail me, I know the suffering will end, and I know that when it does end I will be in such a better place! That is reason enough for me to rejoice and be glad in my suffering. God is good!
You’ve probably heard of the cliché saying that God won’t give you more than you can handle…yeah, I call bologna on that one! You will be given things that are so much more than you can handle…downright “impossible to handle” things! Nowhere in the bible does it say that you won’t, but don’t worry guys – He will handle it for you – that’s His word. That’s His promise.
Whatever it is you may be going through at the moment, please know that you are held, that He won’t allow it to destroy you or become too much for you to bear. You couldn’t be in better hands, and He will be with you continuously till this season has passed. He loves you more than it is possible to fathom, and He already has a plan in place for you to come out of this period of struggle better than you went in.
No one on this side of heaven is safe from suffering. We all go through times of pain and despair of all kinds, but my friends, I have great news – there is always the possibility of beauty from suffering, and this is God’s promise. He doesn’t promise that we won’t have suffering…quite the opposite actually – He is very specific in that we will have suffering in this world, but take heart! He has overcome the world!