About a month ago a dear friend of mine found herself in a season of suffering. I held onto the letter I shared with her because I felt others needed to read it. Recently, it’s been on my heart because in every direction I look friends, family or otherwise are struggling. Was this why God turned the immense amount of suffering and heartache in my life into beauty? So that I may share the love my God has for us? Is it so I can share that there’s no greater suffering than Jesus dying for our sins?
Dear <insert your name here>,
“Trials have a way of molding us into different people. When I went through an intense season of long-suffering and I came out a different person. I felt as if my pride, lack of understanding towards others, and selfish desires were constantly chiseled at in very painful ways. My flesh was being stripped and my spirit was being forged in the fire.
When Christ came to Earth he suffered to the greatest extent any human had or would in history. He wrapped himself in flesh and inserted himself into the middle of chaos so that death could be conquered. The Son of God faced hatred and persecution not only in his 33 years on this planet but also in his final hours leading to death. Taking on the sins of humanity as his flesh was pierced and he himself mocked.
Jesus suffered great lengths for you and I, out of his immense love and grace. As 1 Peter puts it, he suffered in the flesh so that if we would do the same, sin would cease. When you decide to place faith in Jesus at the middle of your suffering, you have victory over sin. This means that when you suffer, the flesh is starved and it’s selfish desires chipped away.
I love the way the Bible illustrates this passage,
“Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.”
Our flesh riddles us to seek purpose, healing, and comfort in the world. When you suffer and look for hope in Christ, your flesh is denied and the spirit is fed. Step by step, trial by trial, you learn to desire less of this world and crave more that has eternal value.
It can be so hard to wait, am I right? We love our quick-fixes, fast food conveniences, and get-rich-quick schemes. However, it seems the hardest time to be patient is in times of suffering. Everything cries out within us to bypass, rush through, or skip the season altogether.
If you are longing to grow in your faith and become more mature as a believer, there is something you need to understand and embrace: God does His greatest work in times of suffering. So as much as your flesh wants to avoid it, instead, embrace it.
Long-suffering, which is showing patience in suffering, produces a great amount of good fruit. To name a few:
* Endurance (Romans 5:3-4) – When you learn to be patient in suffering, you produce a valuable fruit that will be a friend in times of trouble. Having the ability to persevere in the face of adversity will carry you through to finish strong. Not only that, but endurance produces character, which leads to much more fruit as Romans 5 describes.
* Strength (1 Peter 5:10) – 1 Peter makes it clear that we will suffer, however, that even though we may suffer a bit God will restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us. If your suffering molds you to be a person that is secure, strong, and steady, then that’s a season worth embracing.
* Eternal Glory (2 Corinthians 4:17) – Suffering prepares us for eternity. In suffering, we often learn where our faith should be placed: God or this world. When we learn in our suffering to place our faith in Christ, there is a shift in perspective that has eternal value.
Although suffering may seem unfair at times, on a personal level suffering has the ability to produce so much good if allowed. On a broader level, God uses the suffering in this world to bring about some good. Although it was not His original design, He uses the pains that rattle our world in ways we may not see it. To try to grasp or comprehend the reasons and validity of everything that happens is an exhaustive endeavor that will leave you discouraged and lacking in faith. Instead, hope for the fruit born out of suffering.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 challenges us to give thanks in ALL circumstances, even in the trials. it doesn’t mean when you feel like it or when everything is going how you’d prefer. It means to praise God for His goodness and faithfulness when it’s hard to muster praise and life seems hard.
How do you respond to suffering? Get a hold of yourself and start thanking God for being steadfast in grace and love. Tell yourself that you won’t wallow in the pity and sadness but rather pull yourself out of the pit to find hope.
God is good all the time, meaning that even when things appear to go south for you or in this world.
Stop focusing on what your expectations are but rather set your focus on Him. I assure you, you’ll have blessing after blessing.”
With my whole heart,