Just as we can choose to look at every Intrusion that enters our lives as an invitation from Jesus to welcome it in the way that He would, so also we can look for His invitations that come to us in the form of suffering. And we can choose to trust Him in the dark and in the unanswered hard places of our lives.
I wrote Chronic Pain three years ago about a difficult stretch of migraine pain I was going through. This is the picture out our kitchen window at that time. After a landslide the makeshift houses on the hill had to be torn down. And I thought about the rubble and the workers trying to save the bricks.
I wrote: “As I sort through the rubble in my life, I too want to seek and to set aside the bricks of truth with which to rebuild. I want to be open to what God wants to continue to teach me about those many “wasted” days of pain, and the feelings of helplessness, uselessness, and discouragement that I was fighting in addition to the physical pain.”
Suffering changes our perspective. Helps us to focus on what's really important. It's not how much we can accomplish in a day, or how we can reach those high and lofty goals that really matters, is it?
In The Hardest Peace, Kara Tippetts writes: “I can say that cancer and suffering give the beautiful gift of perspective. It is the gift you never wanted, the gift wrapped in confusion and brokenness and heartbreak. It's the gift that strips all your other ideas of living from you completely. The beautiful, ugly raising to the surface the importance of each and every moment.”
Kara shares this quote from Nancy Guthrie's Holding on to Hope: “Trusting God when the miracle does not come, when the urgent prayer gets no answer, when there is only darkness—this is the kind of faith God values perhaps most of all. This is the kind of faith that can be developed and displayed only in the midst of difficult circumstances. This is the kind of faith that cannot be shaken because it it the result of having been shaken.”
Philip Yancey shares about the advantages of suffering in his book Where is God When it Hurts? He writes, “I came across a thought-provoking list of “advantages” to being poor proposed by a Catholic nun named Monica Hellurg. I have adapted her list, broadening it to include all who suffer.
- Suffering, the great equalizer, brings us to a point where we may realize our urgent need for redemption.
- Those who suffer know not only their dependence on God and on healthy people but also their interdependence with one another.
- Those who suffer rest their security not on things, which often cannot be enjoyed and may soon be taken away, but rather on people.
- Those who suffer have no exaggerated sense of their own importance, and no exaggerated need of privacy. Suffering humbles the proud.
- Those who suffer expect little from competition and much from cooperation.
- Suffering helps us distinguish between necessities and luxuries.
- Suffering teaches us patience, often a kind of dogged patience born of acknowledged dependence.
- Suffering teaches the difference between valid fears and exaggerated fears.
- To suffering people, the gospel sounds like good news and not like a threat or a scolding. It offers hope and comfort.
- Those who suffer can respond to the call of the gospel with a certain abandonment and uncomplicated totality because they have so little to lose and are ready for anything.”
How has suffering affected your faith?
How has it changed your perspective on life?
What kind of invitation is Jesus extending to you right now?
May God bless you in unexpected ways as you walk in step with Him in the coming days.