6 ponderings on Suffering


Some thoughts I’ve been able to suss out in the aftermath of my recent health trauma.


1. God is not here to make the suffering easier. He is here to be the reason you push on day after day. He coaxes you through so that at the end you have an experience that is priceless because it enables you to relate to people you never would have been able to otherwise. Because if there is one thing in this world that no one is untouched by, it is suffering. Being Christian does not exemplify us from it. Being a Christian just gives us a reason to keep on going. So that one day we can share the gospel because of the doors that our suffering opened.

2. The end will justify the pain it took to get there. In this season I discovered a crack in my foundation of faith. I had always believed that when I hit rock bottom, God would move heaven and earth to help me. But after months and months of crying out, I didn’t get the miracle I was waiting for. In the midst of the pain and the depth of the despair, God might not rescue you. And it might feel like a personal rejection, an abandonment and a betrayal. It hurts like no pain you could ever have imagined. Christ knew it. He asked God why he had forsaken him. But the trauma of the moment doesn’t change the truth: this suffering will matter. And it may even damage our relationship with God here and now, but God has already weighed the options and found it worth the outcome. Little by little we will learn to trust him again. God is not unaware of the damage that suffering is causing to our relationship with him. But he sees something we can’t–the faith that will come to replace it.

3. The product of suffering is intimate trust. Following suffering, will always come some form of healing. It is in the healing process that trust is rebuilt. After being dismantled, building trust up again is a careful and refining process. And at the end of it, we discover a more solid faith in God than we ever had before. And that  is something that we get to carry with us into heaven. While suffering is a result of sin, it does provide us with the opportunity to gain intimacy with God in a way that we would never have had, had the world never been broken by sin.

We may wish we had never had to go through the things we did but in reality, without those experiences, we would never, not now nor in heaven, get to that level of trust with God.

4. There is priceless worth in our suffering. This is something we tell people in pain to make them feel better. It’s true. But when we are in the depth of the pain–What then? When we are stuck feeling like my pain doesn’t matter because if it did, God would help me… What is the truth then?
Why has God left me to hurt? He hasn’t.
But for all intents and purposes he has… because all we want in those moments is to be comforted. To be rescued. And this is where I wonder if perhaps these times are an echo of those who need the Gospel. A very real reminder of how it feels to be separated from God. A foreshadow of the eternity many will face. A reminder to keep going so I can reveal God’s love to someone who doesn’t know it yet. Maybe the value of suffering is not just in the aftermath and the results, but rather also in the experience of feeling abandoned.

5. Just because suffering is an inevitable part of life doesn’t mean we have to handle it gracefully. What do you do when you find out God’s not coming?
Despair? Give up? Turn your back? Or do you accept it? If we are supposed to just accept it, I haven’t the slightest idea as to how, because that definitely wasn’t the route I took.

Nor did Jesus. He despaired in the garden. And on the cross.

I think that God knows that there is a point in suffering where he will inevitably lose our trust. He knows that he will have to break our faith. But for whatever reason he deems it necessary.

Because we are human. Weak. Loss of faith is a given. There must be a loss to Satan to gain victory. Otherwise Satan would always see it coming.

There is no way around the despair. There is no way to make it easier. And God knows that. But we don’t. We think that if he would just rescue us we would love him that much more. But that is human reasoning. And therefore faulty.

If Jesus had to face despair, then so must we, I think. There is no getting out of it or making it easier.

6. Suffering is the result of our choosing sin. And it is hell. Literally. Being removed from God. If we did not have to experience that, then we would be escaping sin. And that is just not possible. Because the world is overrun with it. The miracle is actually in how frequently God is present. But instead we get upset at the few times that he submits to the restriction of sin.

Suffering is our chance to experience the consequence of choosing sin. And it highlights the contrast of sin and the gospel.

Suffering is grace uncovered. Without it we wouldn’t know just how present God really is. Suffering shows us a glimpse of what being without him would be like. And it reveals to us just how much he is with us. I see him in everything now. Feeling like he wasn’t here before makes him that much more here now.