I dare not claim that I understand suffering. Nor do I say that I have experienced a magnitude of suffering that deserves credit or recognition. Many have suffered far worse than me! Yet, I am greatly encouraged as I review the little my Lord has allowed me to suffer. I wish to share this encouragement with you. Suffering is a mystery. I cannot relate in detail why God allows His children to suffer. But I can share that He is never absent from their suffering. A sure path through the suffering exists for any who call upon the name of the Lord. The only way through hardships is choosing to trust Christ.
God calls us to endure in faith. During trials I have sometimes questioned God. I’ve wondered if God were loving and Sovereign, then how could He allow such suffering. At times, I’ve felt like He abandoned or betrayed me. Perhaps to believe that God was in control and had good plans for my life was merely wishful thinking or worse, stupidity. Maybe I was wrong or I misunderstood God somehow. But then there is faith. Faith that believes and clings to the Truth of God's Word. Faith that is "tenaciously persistent"* to believe God is Who He says He is and the Bible is reliable. When I chose to trust Christ, regardless of my feelings or circumstances, my concerns, fears and the unknowns fell to the wayside. Yes, I still experienced the pain, but I also experienced peace and hope. Trusting Christ doesn’t absolve us from feeling the sting of the hurt and loss. God won’t remove the pain. He uses the pain to draw us closer to Himself. He earnestly desires to soothe us with His love and comfort as we run to Him in our pain and desperation.
I have learned another paradox in suffering. Suffering is what makes me truly whole. Tribulation burns the dross and refines me into His precious possession. Painful? Absolutely! I don’t like pain! I most certainly would never volunteer for it either! If there were another way to be made into Christ’s image, I would be all for it! But the truth of the matter is that suffering is the way of the Cross towards Christ. In tribulation we truly see Christ. Through Christ, we are encouraged in despair; strengthened in weakness; made wise in confusion—in pain, we truly see Jesus.
My hope for this blog is to encourage everyone who is encountering pain today to know that there is a way through your pain. I cannot tell you why you are encountering this particular hardship. But I know with every fiber of my soul, that God can carry you through to the other side of this trial. I encourage you to cling to Him. Cling to Him in your pain and desperation. Cry out to Him and tell Him your fears and sorrows and pain. Ask Him to give you the faith to hold onto Him. He loves you so intensely. He suffered incredibly on the Cross because He loved you. Can you imagine Him not understanding your anguish of heart? Do you think He loves you any less now than on Calvary?
Have not I commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with you wherever you go.
* partial credit must be given to Tricia Macfarlan for helping coin the phrase "tenaciously persistent"