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An Honest Account of Love, Grief and Walking With God
Finding God's Goodness in Life's Disappointments

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Benefits of Suffering

There are many people I know who are going through some very challenging things in their lives.  On one hand, I hate it for them because they are my friends, acquaintances, family, and people I love.  On the other hand, I know there are only some things that can be learned through suffering.  I wish there was another way, but I am afraid there is not.    My prayer is that they encounter God in the suffering and that they will grow.

Psalm 62:1-2 says, “My soul finds rest (waits) in God alone; my salvation comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” (NIV)  I have discovered that it is only in times of suffering that we understand the concept of “God alone.”  Beth Moore says, “No one has fully embraced the concept of God alone apart from grave disappointments.”  I could not have put it better, and I believe it is a true statement.

We love to see the power of God, but I contend it is in times of suffering and disappointment when we get the opportunity to know the character of God or His nature.  Knowing Him is far more important than operating in His power.  Spending time fellowshipping with Him, sitting, and simply being with Him in times of suffering expands us.

Suffering offers the opportunity to gain experience and authority in areas.  I recently had lunch with a lady who is a wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.  She knows the Lord and has walked with Him for a while.  As I reflected on our conversation, it occurred to me that although she is wiser than me in areas because of her age and many experiences, I actually have experience that she does not have because I have already encountered losing my spouse.  I’ve experienced what everyone who is happily married dreads.  The experiences of the suffering I’ve encountered gives me an authority that I did not have years ago.  She has friends who are widowed and may have some head knowledge, but it is in experiences and pressing through them that we gain authority.

When we run to God in times of suffering, we can settle our hearts down because walking with God is enough.  People fail us, but God never does.  They often do not mean to, but they do.  God is always faithful.  It is part of His nature, and because of that His favor/provision is available for us to access in times of turmoil.

My faith is stronger than it has ever been.  I have walked through some really painful times that might cause some people to say, “Where is God for her?”  “He didn’t answer her prayers.”  Actually, I know right where He is--He is with me.  I have not wondered where He was.  I knew He was with me because of other sufferings I encountered previously, not simply because I read a scripture.  I trust Him more today than ever before.  I’ve been through some tough battles and encountered some hard blows, but because He is my rock and fortress, I will never be shaken.  I could not have said that 20 years ago.

Suffering also develops compassion.  I have noticed that there is a big difference in how I minister now versus how I ministered even several years ago.  I have a greater understanding now and compassion for people who are hurting.  Jesus was moved with compassion, and I know that is His heart for believers, so we can be more effective in the work Jesus calls us to do.  Work for God without compassionate people is not worth much.

There are far too many people who go through suffering and become angry at God or others and waste their suffering.  Hard times without looking to God for strength and the healing we need can produce a hardness of heart, lack of compassion, and harshness.  Perhaps you have allowed the suffering you’ve been through to make you tough-hearted.  The Pharisees were not compassionate on the man who needed to be healed on the Sabbath.  They were much more interested in the letter of the law versus the need for restoration and healing.  Their anger revealed that knew a lot, but they did not know the heart of God.

I love how Psalm 62 ends.  It says, “One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard:  that you, O God are strong, and that you O Lord, are loving.  Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done.

God wants us to rest in His strength and in His love.  Strong and loving are not words that I would normally link together but God does.  He wants us as his kids to be strong in knowing Him and loving towards those he puts in our lives.

Most of all...don't waste the hardships you encounter.  There is much to gain and jewels to discover.

1 comment:

  1. Suffering has certainly shaped me to be who I am today. Salvation made huge changes, LOL, and the suffering after salvation knocked a lot more edges off! One of these days I will be a stone used to slay another Goliath.