One thing I have loved the last year is getting to know members of my local church body. Frequently volunteering in several different areas, I’ve had the privileged of doing life with many of them. While that’s been a beautiful force in deepening conversations, it’s also been hard as I learn about what’s hurting them.
In the moments when running around is paused, I am reminded that there is a lot of brokenness in our world. Broken relationships, health struggles, sin patterns, and an underlying strain to draw closer to a God who can seem so removed.
I’m not minimizing the pain. I feel it. I’m hurting with those who are hurting, but I can’t help but wonder at the silver linings. God does not allow pain without a purpose. Yes, it hurts, but the struggle, the pain, the trial is not the last line in the book. There is more to the story.
Suffering is good because…
#4 – Pain makes you stronger
Growth does not always occur when we are comfortable and happy with how things are. We often need an opposing force to spur us onto the next rung of character development. Sometimes this comes through a really good friend, other times through undesirable circumstances.
“The challenges that God encourages us to go through are meant to strengthen us. These challenges and therefore, these losses, teach us wisdom that instant success simply couldn’t teach us.”-David Villa
Endurance, character, and hope (Romans 5:3-5) are seeds that need to be buried in order to sprout. The initial plunge is dark, deep, and scary but in time will blossom. As my dad once said, “Today’s challenges and heartbreaks are the steps that take you to where you want to go.”
#3 – Mistakes equip you to help others
Going through a trial or trying to break a sin pattern gives you an incredible opportunity to minister to others who find themself on the same path. You are better equipped than anyone to recognize the symptoms, reach out, relate, and point to the truth.
While trials do develop our personal character, they are even more so meant to crack us open so the hope of Christ within us can flood another’s soul. People are why we are here! God didn’t wake us up so we have to figure out how to survive, but so He can work through us in another’s life.
Get out of yourself. When the Spirit points out someone lost in the darkness you have seen (and maybe are still struggling with), reach out. Come alongside them. Have candid conversations about how you’re struggling, what you’re learning, and who God is through it all. Read more here.
#2 – God’s glory shines brighter
God does not allow anything to happen if it does not ultimately contribute to His glory and your good. In a broad brushstroke, “good” entails being conformed to His image, Christ-likeness, and your heart to be drawn to His.
For this to come about, you need to see the need for God: that we are unbelievably wicked. The core of our being is innately coal-black, sticky depravity. We are filthy wretches, a truth we must see if we are to grasp the glory of God.
The more we are confronted with the darkness of our souls and the brokenness of the world, the brighter His glory will shine. It’s a natural contrast. The darker the night, the brighter the stars. So while it would be ideal to bypass suffering, the experience makes God more real to us.
#1 – Suffering keeps you dependent on God
As much as I would prefer it the other way, it is significantly “easier” to hold onto Christ when He is your only source of comfort, stability, or logic. I love dancing with Him on a mountain top, but it’s when He’s holding me in a valley that my soul is knit to Him.
If we had it all together, why would we need a Savior? In the new earth, we will spend eternity praising Him for His excellencies, but in this day and age, it is good that there are trials because they keep us humble, honest, and dependent on the only One who satisfies.
If you stayed in the shallows of comfort and ease, you would never come to know the depths of His love. And the deep, murky waters of things we don’t understand are invitations to trust God with the unknown. We can’t stop the waves from coming, but we can learn how to surf.
In the end, one day when it’s all over, the entire journey is meant to lead us to say, “That was God.” The confusion and darkness is meant to be so deep that only God can get glory for the victory. I know it hurts, so take a deep breath and ask God what it is He is trying to teach you about Himself. He is the reality that will change everything.