If there is anything universal among humans, it’s suffering. Everybody at some time experiences loss, pain or disappointment. But can anyone really understand your story? Can anyone truly fathom the depths of your pain?
You Are Not Alone
Have you ever said to yourself, “I just want a normal life”? What we’re really saying here is that we want a life without problems or only with problems that we can manage. There’s not a single human that doesn’t go through serious trials at some point. There may be times of relative peace, but eventually trials appear. If you could trade your life for someone else’s, you would just get another set of problems.
Is God Unfair?
Many people get mad at God or deny his existence since suffering exists. Their hurt causes them to think that God made a mistake in allowing for pain and illness. How can God stand by when innocent children to die of cancer? How can he permit family members to be lost due to carelessness or cruelty?
The Good Side Of Suffering
At the same time, we accept and understand the positive aspects of suffering. Studying to get a degree or working hard to feed a family all require sacrifice. If a person labors hard all day in the hot sun, they suffer. We know there is virtue and goodness in their work.
Pick And Choose
In the end, we want to determine the type, timing and severity of our suffering. Taking this idea to its end, we want total control of our lives. Since suffering often comes from others, we want control over them as well. This desire to control has driven some to commit great atrocities.
If we open up our eyes, however, we see a vast universe. We realize we’re just a tiny dot of flesh on a clot of dirt in God’s great creation. Do we stop our lives from moving forward because an ant protests? But sometimes we expect the same authority over how the universe should work.
We are given complete freedom to make choices, and much suffering is due to bad choices we have made. We want the freedom, but we don’t want to pay the price for bad decisions. So facing God, we tell him that we want him to make our lives perfect.
A Deeper Meaning
If we allow ourselves to look deep into our suffering, we come to understand the purpose it serves. For instance, how and why we suffer help establish our identity. We feel sad over a person we have lost or that is ill since we’re connected to them. Our reaction to illness reveals something about ourselves, and it also gives us a chance to improve.
We shouldn’t fall into the trap of letting suffering define us, but it plays a central role in our life history. Why do stories about those who overcome great odds inspire us so much? Because they give us something essential to face tribulations: hope.
Make A Choice
When you suffer, you are presented with a choice. The world offers us many empty promises. So we run to drugs, pills, alcohol or other things that don’t allow us to fully process our pain. If we give hope a chance though, it can give birth to something even more profound which is faith.
This doesn’t mean that things will turn out exactly how you want them. It doesn’t even mean that your suffering will end. But if you choose to seek God despite it all, your faith will dig down deep. And the tree with deep, strong roots perseveres and produces abundant fruit.
Remember, the roots of faith grow beneath the surface in that hidden secret place where you are alone with God. Only he fully sees and understands how much you suffer. This he revealed perfectly in his son.
In his great wisdom, God choose not to create a universe without suffering. Instead he choose to suffer with us. Why? Because the depth of our suffering reveals the depth of our love. God gave up his innocent son for all the badness in the world. It’s the fullness of God’s love revealed.
Instead of making the world perfect and sterile, with no feeling, he showed us his glory in a way that creates miracles. So we find meaning to suffering and can even transform sorrow into blessings.
In the most painful circumstances, only those who have faced the same trial can truly help others. A parent that has lost a child can sometimes be the only consoling voice for another parent facing the same pain.
Peace Be With You
Walking the path of suffering with faith generates great peace within you. Jesus offers you his peace that comes down like manna from heaven. His peace gives you faith like steel and removes all fear. Your roots sink deep, and you won’t be moved, even by the strongest wind.
This is the same faith that Jesus took to the cross with him, and it’s the power of salvation. It’s the power that created the universe. We have access to this great power when we access the great love of God.
The Darkest Night
In some cases the pain is unbearable. Situations of abuse, poverty or chronic illness bring you to a point where life might seem meaningless. But if you press forward and look for God, his great promise and love are revealed to you in a way that makes sense of it all.
Very few have to walk these darkest nights, and God provides these special souls with an incredible grace and sense of mercy that touch the very essence of holiness. These persons often suffer in silence. But God hears them, and they are the chosen few who truly understand what it means when we speak of Christ’s humility. They come to fully know that their identity as a child of God is indestructible.
When you suffer greatly, you reach your limit. Things are beyond your control. It’s here where God’s Spirit has room to work. It’s here where your character becomes transformed into something more holy, more giving and more pure. It’s never easy, but if you trust in God, his glory is certain to shine in your life.