Who doesn’t look for a way out of suffering—be it from affliction, emotional pain, or mental anguish?
Flight becomes the answer to long days that compound into years of struggle. But if no escape routes exists for the affliction bound to touch us all, we find a way to go on, don’t we?
Our lives survive even when the grueling pace of day to day leaves us breathless.
Our hearts beat despite how often they break.
But our faith…Our faith can bear the burden of our suffering if we aren’t careful.Click To Tweet
When hardship weighs us down, we seek to lessen our load. We haphazardly throw out whatever doesn’t put up a fight and in the process can let go of the wrong thing.
Has your faith been the first thing to slip away during a difficult season of life?
Sadly, it can sneak out without us realizing it.
The purpose of suffering as a christian isn’t what you think.
Five years ago, my family’s life whipped around inside the tornado that was my son’s explosive and unpredictable behavior. Imagine the most defiant child you know and then put him or her on steroids. I hate to describe him like that, but so it was.
There the mission to fix my difficult child began because that was why God entrusted him to me, right?
Potential fixes abounded, but results did not. I should have held onto my hope in Christ, but as I fought harder to mend my son, faith became less important.
And isn’t that what happens when we aren’t careful? We focus on stripping away the layers of our tribulation, only to throw out God in the process. At least I did.
I didn’t want the calls from school anymore. Or the heart wrenching pain inflicted by my son’s downward spirals. I longed for a normal life for my other two children and just one week where talk with my husband didn’t revolve around the behavior of our son.
But mostly, I didn’t want to crumble under the weight of it anymore.
Dear sisters in Christ, what if I told you that the weight of our troubles weren’t meant to crush us?
1 Peter 5:10 tells us:
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle you.”
You see, we miss the point of our suffering if we’re too busy running from it.Suffering isn’t about breaking. It’s about building. It doesn’t crush you, but instead works to completes you. Click To Tweet
They say hard times make you stronger, but it’s so much more than that.
I’ve been thinking about all the work put into my son. We’ve made some gains, but setbacks remain. There’s still suffering. This road stays long and arduous.
And it’s that long road that has ultimately brought me back to the foot of the cross. I’ve been asking myself tough questions while I sit at Jesus’ feet.
What if I’m not meant to change this situation, but rather called to live it?
Perhaps the brokenness of this suffering doesn’t belong to my son. What if it belongs to me?
Could this affliction brings me closer to wholeness?
Sure, enduring tough times can produce a new kind of strength. But I believe there’s more to it.
Isn’t it possible that suffering isn’t about getting out but staying in?
Galatians 5:22 lists longsuffering as a fruit of the spirit and other scripture calls us to be longsuffering (Colossians 1:11, Colossians 3:12, 2 Corinthians 6:6, 2 Timothy 4:2). This leads me to believe that those long days, months, or years of pain and suffering aren’t meant to be temporary.
Think about it. Aren’t we closest to Christ and most like Him when suffering is permanent? How can we practice longsuffering without trials and hardships?
Philippians 3:10 says:
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable [like him] unto his death.”
As Christians, we must strive to know Jesus and be like him. Doesn’t suffering give us that opportunity?
God continues to open my eyes through my troubles. I’m seeing something bigger than I ever saw before. My suffering pushes me closer to Christ and moves the Holy Spirit to grow those fruits of the Spirit within me.
Can you see that in your life too? Do you believe that your earthly suffering grants you heavenly gains? I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to accept the growing pains if they mold me in His image.
And have you considered this?Suffering isn’t working against you, but for you. So don’t try to fix your affliction—rather allow it to fix you. Click To Tweet
I love the hope of 2 Corinthians 4:17:
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
Human suffering strengthens faith and brings believers closer to God
But how do we allow that to happen when the pain of suffering plagues us? I’ve had the best luck seeing my trials as joy (James 1:2) and understanding God and His work in me when I’ve asked myself these questions:
1. Will this suffering help me to give comfort to someone in the future?
How can we know how to comfort if we ourselves have not received it? Our seasons of struggle and burdens give us an authenticity we can share with others facing similar problems.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 tells us:
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
2. Could this trial be keeping me from sin?
2 Peter 3:15 says:
“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation…”
What I think Paul meant here was that the Lord’s patience in waiting to return to Earth provides the time necessary to see as many souls get saved as possible.
But what if by being longsuffering, we’re saving ourselves from potential sin that could easily creep into our lives when all is going well? One thing is certain—suffering has a way of kicking the pride out of us so that our only hope and restoration comes from Christ alone.
3. Is this hardship teaching me what it really means to love?
If our number one commandment it to love (Mark 10:30-31), I’m on board with anything that will help me to love better.
1 Corinthians 13:4 tells us that:
“Charity [love] suffereth long…”
It may not be easy, but our suffering gives us the practice time we need to display God’s love to ourselves and to those around us.
4. Do these troubles allow me to experience the power of the Lord?
I find peace in the words of Psalms 34:19:
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.”
Our suffering makes God more visible in our life if we invite Him in through prayer and Bible study. During my lowest moments, I’ve experienced my Heavenly Father’s power in a way I never would have if troubles skipped by me.
5. Does this suffering present an opportunity for me to be more like Christ?
Hard times present us with a unique choice: Will we display the character of Christ through them or lean on our sinful nature?
1 Peter 4:1-2 says:
“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of [his] time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”
Suffering helps us to be like Christ, but only when we hold on to the faith that keeps us focused on Him and His amazing work in our life.