The Blessing Found in Suffering

When a tragic, unexpected death happens, do you shake your fist and proclaim “Not today, Satan! We will make the devil pay!” or do you trust God’s ways are higher than yours and say like our Lord, Jesus, “Not my will, Lord, but Yours be done” and trust that He will use that trial for your good and for His glory?

Suffering is a reality for everyone on this earth, including believers. To deny that, is to deny reality of the fact that we live in a fallen world and Christians are not exempt from the results of it. Remember, the Apostles suffered greatly and many of them died horrendous deaths as martyrs. But it was all for God’s glory and a part of His sovereign plan for their lives. 

James 1:12 shares us a beautiful promise about suffering:

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (NIV).

God will use all things to conform us to the image of Christ and often in the life of the believer that includes pain and suffering. In times of suffering, we can pray for God’s mercy to come and cry out for His help in time of trouble, yes, but we must remember Jesus promised that “in this life, there will be trouble” (John 16:33). Yet, we know that He overcame the world for us and we will one day taste of that victory in full when we meet Him face to face! 

That is why we must keep our eyes fixed upon the hope of eternity and not on this life. And that is why faith in God is so important because it is the rock on which we stand when trials and the storms of life come because they will. We must remember that our faith in Him means that because of the cross, we are forgiven and now we can have the hope that He never leaves our side and walks with us through the valley and the mountain top experiences and we have the ultimate hope that there is a glorious eternal life that awaits us in Christ Jesus. That is our anchor…the hope of eternity. There is a day that awaits believers where all pain and suffering will cease. But until then, we continue to declare “And if not…He is still good” and trust our life in His sovereign hands no matter what comes our way. 

Father, please help us find your mercy and goodness when trials and the storms of life come our way. If we are prone to grumble and complain, may the Holy Spirit convict our hearts and remind us to be thankful for your promise of eternity because of the cross. May we look for opportunities to comfort those around us who are suffering as well, so we can help hold each other up. We live in a fallen world, and although we cannot escape suffering, we know that heaven is our home and that the crown of life awaits those who stand firm in the faith, trusting that you have overcome the world and there is no reason to fear. We give you praise and thanksgiving that you will never leave us alone to walk through suffering alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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From Suffering to Glory

Even though I have so many wonderful memories during the holiday season, this time of year also holds some painful memories of experiencing the bitterness of death and loss. Sadly, I know this is the case for so many people. For me, November is the month that my dad was murdered (actually it will be 11 years on the 17th) and the month my husband and I lost our first baby early on in my pregnancy. Those were times where I had to endure some pretty heavy emotional suffering. Even though I was a Christian during those times, the pain was still very real and I struggled in my faith. I had to constantly press into God’s truth and surround myself with other believers who loved me and encouraged me during those dark times.

Pain and suffering are not something any of us look forward to, but while we live here in this fallen and broken world, it is inevitable. It is so easy to get caught up in the storms of our life and lose sight of the hope that is available to us through Jesus Christ. He is the anchor in that storm and promises to never abandon us. 

The suffering may not disappear, but the good news is that Jesus is right there with us to walk through it together. In the midst of the pain, the temptation is to give all of our focus on the battle we may be facing. I believe it is so important for us to keep a heavenly and eternal perspective when we are in the midst of a painful situation or even a painful season. We have to remember that our life here on earth is not all that there is to our existence.

There is a life to come where we are promised no more pain or suffering when we see Jesus face to face and when He returns in all of His glory. This is the glory that Paul tells us about in Romans 8:18:

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

Romans 8:18, NASB

We will experience God’s glory in all of its fullness one day and what a glorious day that will be! Let us hold fast to that hope of eternal life that awaits us, free of all pain and suffering!

So take heart! We must press into God’s promises of what lies ahead.

Jesus is the anchor of our souls; He helps us not waver and is secure and strong.

We must remember that this place is not our home…we are just passing through!

The suffering you are experiencing cannot stand against God’s glory. Let us keep our minds fixed on heaven and fixed on Jesus Christ our Savior, in the midst of our storm.

Sadness and grief will come, sometimes like a tidal wave, but you have an anchor of glorious hope and His name is Jesus!

If you are currently experiencing a trial that seems too much to bear, take that pain to the throne of God. He hears every cry; the Holy Spirit is our great Comforter. Also, fight the temptation to isolate yourself and try to find a friend whom you can share your heart with and confide in. God never intended for us to walk through the valley alone. He is always with you, and He will send someone to be a listening ear and shoulder to cry on if you ask Him. 

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Count it all joy!

2016 was a hard year for me and my family.

While juggling with babysitting a friend’s son who was a full-on ‘threenager,’ I walked through a really difficult mothering season with my own son who seemed to always protest sleep since he was born.

Every few months, he went through major sleep regressions in which he would wake up multiple times a night. Occasionally he would sleep through the night, but the night wakings always seemed to continue for weeks leading into months at a time, night after dreadful night. About a month before he turned two, He began waking three-five times a night. This routine continued every single night for six solid months straight. We prayed (and cried), we had other people pray, we tried a sound machine, essential oils, added extra cushion to his bedding, and followed all of the pediatrician’s advice and tips.

Nothing worked.

Needless to say, sleep deprivation was my constant reality and it hit me hard in 2016. 

From all of the hormonal imbalances and added stress from the severe, chronic sleep deprivation, along with taking on a part-time job in retail around the holidays, I experienced a chemical pregnancy and battled depression on and off for months. Our marriage was also under so much strain because I simply was not behaving like myself whatsoever and was on edge or emotional all the time.

Feeling depleted and defeated was an understatement. 

As a Christian, it felt like such a fight to hold onto peace, hope, and joy. Knowing that true peace, hope, and joy are not circumstantial, I really had to lean on God’s grace to get through every single day unlike any other time in my life.

I knew the Bible told me that I needed to “count it all joy” in the midst of these trials, but I needed God to give me eyes to see the why behind that and empower me to the how as well. 

We find in the opening of James’ letter to the tribes of Israel, after his initial greeting, he immediately begins exhorting and encouraging God’s people that the storms of life are not for no reason at all; there is purpose within the pain. 

James 1:2-3 says,

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces [a]patience.” 

NKJV

We know that as children of God, our Heavenly Father is allowing these trials into our life to strengthen our faith in Him, knowing that He is always working things for our good (Romans 8:28). James 1:3 reveals that this sharpening or testing of our faith ‘muscles’ will produce a patience in us, which is a fruit of the Spirit. God will often use painful, uncomfortable, and stressful situations to sanctify us. We can have joy knowing that these storms of life and difficulties are molding us into looking more like Christ. 

Ultimately, we must remember that our joy is not anchored in this life, but most importantly, in the life to come.

When our lives are filled with trials, we must be able to look to the future—to heaven—to find the joy that can soothe our weary hearts. Our joy must be based on looking to God and to the inheritance we will receive in heaven. This is exactly what Jesus did. He was able to endure the cross because of the joy that was set before Him (Heb. 12:2). We, too, must realize that the suffering we endure in this life cannot compare with the joy that is laid up for us in heaven.

To be able to count all suffering joyful, we must be able to trust God.

Are you struggling with that kind of confidence in God’s goodness in all things and finding comfort in His sovereign hand in your life, even in your suffering? Ask God to help you find joy in Him alone and to give you a heavenly perspective when you are tempted to allow the present circumstances to consume you.

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