Suffering is a Gift… Huh?
One of those strange phrases that we say to maybe sound poetic or wise…right alongside, ‘everything happens for a reason…’
I have some trouble accepting these phrases. Why? Because I think they’re a bit too shallow…and only phrases that people who 1) haven’t gone through the hell you might be facing or 2) are on the other side of it and may have forgotten how bad it was, can easily say.
It’s not just that suffering is a gift and we should be rejoicing that we get to go through such horrible times <eyeroll>…rather, we should see through it all, during and after surviving, that God is still good and He still has purpose for us.
The gift isn’t the suffering. The gift is a good God that allows us to cling to him during the suffering. A God who walks straight through (not around) the yucky with us, and somehow – miraculously – turns the tides and eventually allows us to see the list of blessings that have come from our pain.
When I was in the thick of my life falling to pieces, a friend of mind shared a vision the Lord gave her. It was of Jesus in full control of what I thought was falling apart, and He said, ‘Your pain will not be wasted.’ Sure enough, nearly 3 years later, I have seen countless times where, because of what I have walked through, God has allowed me to reach someone who otherwise may not have been reached. I’ve been able to have conversations with those hurting that others may not be able to have – to relate to people on a deeper level than if I didn’t know their pain. He has allowed me to sit next to a friend on the bathroom floor who can’t deal with the reality of her life knowing exactly the despair she is feeling and knowing that the only thing I can possibly do is pray over her and ask God to be near. Perhaps the most miraculous of it all, is he has allowed me to speak on a stage sharing my story very briefly only to have women come up to me after saying how something I said has helped them find strength or freedom from their own situation. It is in these moments that I can barely contain my awe of the Lord. That He would give me the honour of being even the smallest part of someone’s journey to healing.
These things would not have happened if I hadn’t experienced the despair I experienced.
One thing many of us get confused at is that God ‘puts us through pain’ to develop our character. Let’s be careful that we don’t mix up Adam and Eve’s choice to allow sin in this world as God putting us through suffering. He allows us to go through suffering, but He’s not gifting us pain. He is gifting us strength in the midst of pain, intimacy with Him while he sits with us in the dark, and then redemption in the end. How good is it that He doesn’t just stop with us – but that we get to bless others because of His redemption?
Remember: God’s allowance isn’t equivalent to God’s approval.
‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.the gift isn’t the pain, the gift is God and His miraculous power to use ALL situations for the good of those who love Him.’ (Rom 8:28)