I sat in the cold room waiting for the doctor to come in. At first, I tried to distract myself by looking at the different posters on the wall and reading all of the medical jargon.
But no matter what I did, I couldn’t calm my nerves.
- Would today be the day?
- Would they finally be able to tell me what was wrong with me?
- And would they be able to fix it?
I had seen so many doctors. Gone through so many tests. And yet the strange symptoms still persisted.
Finally, I heard a knock on the door and the doctor entered the room.
He got right to the point and said, “You have POTS. That stands for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome.”
At first, I was elated.
I finally had an answer. A diagnosis. A reason for how awful I had been feeling. I wasn’t crazy! It wasn’t all in my head!
But then he said five little words that would change my life forever.
“It is a chronic condition.”
Those words have since mocked me with their permanence. Because my suffering is going to last a lifetime. But when you have a condition that won’t go away, you begin to see trials and suffering in a whole new way.
When I was first diagnosed, I really struggled with questions like:
- “Why is God allowing this to happen to me?”
- And, “How long will God allow me to suffer?”
But now after 10 years of living with this illness, I now wonder if perhaps the problem lies in the fact that, in our Western culture, we have bought into a lie.
The lie that this life SHOULD be easy and free of suffering.
- What did Jesus say about suffering?
- What is the cause of suffering according to Christianity?
- Why does God allow tragedy?
- Why does God allow painful and hard circumstances?
- What is God’s answer to suffering?
What did Jesus say about suffering?
The truth is God never promised us a life of comfort and convenience. In fact, He promised us the exact opposite. Jesus said that in this world we WILL have TROUBLE. (John 16:33)
But He also said we could take heart because He has overcome the world.
While it can be hard to wait, when troubles come our way, we can remember that because of what Jesus did on the cross, it will all be made right someday.
One day there will be no more tears, but Jesus never promised us a life of no tears here.
What He actually promised was that in our suffering He would:
- Comfort us. (2 Cor. 1:4)
- Bring us peace. (Phil. 4:7)
- Be right by our side the entire time. (Deut. 31:8)
- And use ALL THINGS for our good. (Romans 8:28)
What is the cause of suffering according to Christianity?
All suffering in this world is a direct result of the Fall. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, their sin had a domino effect on the rest of creation and all humanity.
However, God can redeem anything. And He often uses things like tragedy and suffering to work some good into our lives.
Why does God allow tragedy?
We often see pain as a problem to be removed. But God knows it is a tool that can be used.
Tragedy can be a very effective wake-up call. It reminds us of what really matters. It forces us to pull away from things that could burn us. And it motivates us to draw closer to God so we grow spiritually.
This life is our training ground for eternity.
Just as muscles must be trained and pushed to the point of pain so they break down and grow back stronger. God can use the pain in our lives to cause us to break down, seek Him, and grow back stronger than ever in our faith.
This is one reason He sometimes allows suffering to come into our lives.
God is growing us up.
Because He is more concerned with our character than our comfort.
Why does God allow painful and hard circumstances?
Sometimes God allows painful and hard circumstances because He sees things we cannot see. He knows there is a purpose behind the pain.
Not a tear is wasted. Not a heartache goes unused. And our God can redeem anything and use it for our good.
The following five ways are just some of the many ways God can take what was meant for evil and use it for good. (Genesis 50:20)
- 1) Suffering gets our attention.
- 2) Suffering shows us what is important.
- 3) Suffering helps us gain a greater perspective.
- 4) Suffering gets us to grow.
- 5) Suffering helps us give comfort to others.
1) Suffering gets our attention.
It can be so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities clamoring for our attention. We rush from one day into the next without thinking much about God or eternity.
But then something happens.
And all of a sudden, we remember how much we need God.
Sometimes God allows us to go through a season of suffering because He knows we need a wake-up call.
We need to be reminded of what is most important.
That this life is not the one that really counts. And that we need God more than the air we breathe.
He knows we operate best when we are living with Him rather than without Him. And suffering forces us to lean on Him in a way nothing else in this world can.
2) Suffering shows us what is important.
We often complain about our spouses, our family, our jobs, etc. But when tragedy strikes suddenly things like the fact that no one can figure out how to put down a toilet seat down doesn’t feel like such a big deal anymore.
- We look at our spouse a little more lovingly.
- We hug our kids a little longer.
- We find ourselves more grateful for all the little things we used to take for granted.
Suffering causes us to focus on what really matters.
- Like growing in the fruit of the Spirit.
- Getting to know God more intimately.
- And telling others about how Jesus saved us.
3) Suffering helps us gain a greater perspective.
Suffering helps us think about eternity. And that gives us a greater perspective on what is going on in our life right now.
Because while the suffering in this life is hard . . . it won’t last forever.
We only have 70-80 years or so to live here. And then, if we are believers, we will live in Heaven FOREVER.
Yes, we have to wait a while. Yes, this life can be hard sometimes. But we are going to spend a lot more time in eternity than we will in this life. And suffering reminds us of this truth.
By taking an eternal view of what we are going through, we remember that the troubles we face will all be over soon.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”-Romans 8:18 ESV
4) Suffering gets us to grow.
Suffering helps us grow in our faith.
Just like a broken bone grows back stronger. Sometimes God allows us to be broken so we can grow back stronger. And when He heals us, we are better able to bear the weight of the everyday stresses while clinging to the God who gives us strength.
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”-Philippians 4:11-13 ESV
5) Suffering helps us give comfort to others.
No one knows the fear of a cancer diagnosis like someone who has faced that scary news before.
No one knows the worry over a prodigal child like another mother who has watched her child reject everything they were taught.
No one knows the pain of betrayal like another woman who has discovered her husband’s shameful secret.
No one knows the difficulty of living with a chronic illness like one who has had to learn how to live with a new normal.
Our suffering equips us in unique ways to comfort those around us. To inspire them to keep going. To encourage them in the journey. And to give them hope for tomorrow.
The trail we walked through our suffering can become a trail map to help others navigate their own hard seasons.
What is God’s answer to suffering?
Jesus was God’s answer to suffering. Because on the cross Jesus made a way for us to be saved from this life of tragedy.
He gives us comfort and peace in the midst of our trials. And He provides the salvation we need to get to Heaven someday. Where we will never suffer again!
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”-Revelation 21:4 ESV
Not only that. But I truly believe God honors the heart that refuses to stop loving Him even in the midst of suffering.
My dear friends, I know life can be hard. I know you look around you and nothing seems to make sense. You may feel lost, weary, and all alone.
Being in a season of suffering is tough!
But with Jesus, there is always HOPE.
- Because He loves us.
- He is for us.
- And He is with us no matter what.
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