If there’s 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 problems that we can manage. Everybody goes through serious trials at some point. There may be times of relative peace, but eventually hard times 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 due to suffering. Their hurt makes them accuse God for allowing pain and illness to exist. How can he stand by when innocent children die of cancer? How can he permit loved ones 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 all day in the hot sun, they suffer. We know there’s virtue and goodness in their work.
Pick And Choose
In the end, we want to determine the type, timing and severity of our struggle. Taking this idea to its end, we want total control of our lives. Since pain often comes from others, we want to control them too. This desire to control has driven some to commit great atrocities.
If we open our eyes though, we see a vast universe. We realize we’re just a tiny speck in God’s great creation. Would you stop building a house because an ant complains? But sometimes we expect the same authority over how the universe should work.
We have complete freedom to make choices, and much harm comes from bad choices we’ve made. We want the freedom, but we don’t want to pay the price for mistakes. So facing God, we tell him we want him to make our lives perfect.
A Deeper Meaning
If we allow ourselves to look deeper into suffering, we can understand the purpose it serves. For instance, how we suffer helps establish our identity. We feel sad over a person who’s ill or passed away since we’re connected to them. Our reactions reveal something about ourselves which 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? Because they give us something essential to face tribulations: hope.
Make A Choice
When you suffer, you’re presented with a choice. The world offers us many empty promises. So we run to drugs, pills, alcohol or other things that don’t let us fully process our pain. If we give hope a chance though, it gives birth to something even more profound: faith.
This doesn’t mean that things will turn out exactly how you want. 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 stands tall and produces abundant fruit.
Remember, the roots of faith grow beneath the surface in that hidden secret place where you’re alone with God. Only he fully sees and understands how much you suffer. And he revealed this perfectly in his son.
In his great wisdom, God didn’t create a universe without suffering. Instead he choose to suffer with us. Why? Because the depth of our pain 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 miraculous glory. We find meaning in suffering and can even transform sorrow into blessings.
In the most painful circumstances, only those who have faced the same pain can truly help others. A parent that has lost a child might be the only consoling voice for another parent facing the same hurt.
Peace Be With You
Walking the path of suffering with faith creates great peace within you. Jesus gives you his peace that pours out from his wounds. His peace gives you faith like steel and removes all fear. Your roots sink deep, and you won’t be moved, not even by the strongest wind.
This is the same faith that Jesus took to the cross with him. It’s the power of salvation. It’s the Spirit that created the universe. We touch 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 in a way that makes sense of it all.
Very few have to walk these darkest nights. God provides these special souls an incredible grace and sense of mercy that are 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 pure. It’s never easy, but if you trust in God, his glory is certain to shine in your life.
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