Suffering is such a personal thing. What I consider suffering you may not consider suffering. An individual’s perception of their circumstances will impact their experience of suffering. An individual’s attitude in their circumstances will impact their experience of suffering.
Suffering is an expected part of life…
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you… 1 Peter 4:12
Suffering has purpose…
…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. Romans 5:3-5
Suffering is part of God’s sanctifying grace in our lives. God is in the process of making us like Jesus. Suffering often makes us more sensitive to the Spirit and more eager to cling to Christ. At least that has been my experience. Suffering gives us a greater vision of our weakness and neediness. Those things are always true but we are not always as aware of it. Desperation can draw us intimately close to our Savior.
Hope the midst of suffering…
Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” Lam 3:19-24
Even in the midst of suffering we have hope. God’s promises are true whether we can see them, feel them or sense them. We trust Him. We trust in His Word.
Seeing beyond the suffering…
Suffering can give us tunnel vision. All we can see is NOW. All we can feel is the PAIN. Suffering can make life all about ME. Everything filters through my suffering. By faith we can look beyond ourselves, beyond now, and beyond the pain. Maybe only for moments at a time but as we endure to focus beyond our suffering those moments can become minutes and hours and days. Can there really be joy again?
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Ps 30:5
…for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
Christ’s focus during His suffering was the joy of His obedience and the joy of being restored to His Father. His focus was not on the suffering but on the joy beyond the suffering.
How do we model that?
How do we see beyond our suffering?
1. It will take faith to believe God’s promises even when they don’t FEEL true. Fight for faith, sister.
2. Know that God is up to something good in our lives. He is making us like Christ through the suffering.
3. It will end. It will not last forever even if it feels like it will.
4. God is with us in the midst of it. He is a every present help in times of trouble(Ps 46:1).
5. There is joy in obedience even in the midst of suffering.
6. One day…Ladies…. One day. Heaven. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4
I hope you do not find yourself in the midst of suffering right now, but if you do I pray these words will encourage your heart.
After serving 16 years full-time on the staff of America’s Keswick, Diane Hunt and her husband moved to North Carolina where she continues to serve part-time as a contributing writer and Partner Care Consultant. She is also a biblical counselor and women’s event speaker. For more information about having Diane speak at your next event please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.