How Suffering Can Be a Good Thing
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
1 Peter 1:6,7
Suffering sucks. I’m not going to lie. I used to be a rah-rah guy, but as I’ve grown in the truth of how this Christian thing works, God has taught me it’s much more important to be real. It’s much more important to feel our sad feelings and express them, than it is to act like they don’t exist.
Today, I want to talk to those of you who are in deep pain. I want to reach out to my friends who are suffering. Deep suffering can lead you to thoughts of suicide, addiction, martyrdom, and codependency–that is, if you look at suffering on its own. This is Satan’s plan for your life, so please recognize that. He does not want you focused on God, he wants you focused on the pain.
God is not bringing this suffering on you. This fallen world is, demonic forces are, the poor choices of people are, and many other players in the game of life. God, however, is for you in this fallen place. He is not against you (see 1 John 4:4). If you believe that Jesus is the Savior of your sin, God does not bring suffering into your life. He might allow suffering–for a greater good–but He is not causing your suffering. He’s a good Dad, not a cruel one. Good dads don’t exacerbate their children.
This will sound strange, but please understand something: the results of your suffering can be extremely beneficial to you, to others, and for eternity. Don’t believe me? Just look to the Cross. The darkest day in history turned out to be the most beautiful.
Suffering is a good thing because it draws you into deeper relationship with God. If I had to highlight one sentence from everything I write today, that would be it. Suffering is not a good thing because of how it makes us look, or the attention it can bring–especially when we have the tendency to want to play the victim. We are not victims! We are overcomers, children of God, saints!
Suffering is a good thing because it refines our soul–not our spirit–but the customizable part of us. Our mind, free will, and emotions. Suffering allows us to place our complete dependence on our Creator because we have no other choice. You do not make decisions like you once did, and this causes you enormous pain! You are not your own and you know that! So you “gladly” suffer! (See 1 Corinthians 6:19,20).
I put quotation marks around the word gladly to emphasize sarcasm because being glad about suffering is a crock. Was Jesus glad in His actions and attitudes as He carried that Cross? No. So neither should we be. BE REAL! Express yourself! Jesus was glad about Sunday, not Friday. He wasn’t “faking it until He made it,” smiling for the crowd to see–HE CRIED OUT IN PAIN!!!!! (See Matthew 27:46).
Friend, suffering allows you to learn more about who lives inside you, and why He lives inside you. Suffering draws out God’s character from you (see Galatians 5:22,23, 1 Corinthians 13). In our deepest agonies, He reassures us He’s there.
Suffering refines us! It doesn’t destroy us! It shows us that we can make the choices God wants us to make, no matter how badly it hurts! When we suffer in our health, in our relationships, in our finances, and even in our confidence–GOD IS STILL THERE! GOD IS STILL WORKING ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR AN ETERNAL GOOD!
…So we trust Him. Suffering builds trust with God. It was in Jesus’ suffering that trust with the Father was built. As He pleaded for another way other than the Cross, He grew in trust through pain (see Luke 22:42). As we continue to be who we are in our spirits, we start to see the benefits of trusting God through our own pain and suffering. We start to notice the byproducts. James explains:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)
So today, my friends, like James says, consider your suffering pure joy. Your suffering is testing your faith. The testing of your faith is producing perseverance. Please, be patient as that perseverance finishes its work so that you may be mature, complete, and not lacking anything. This life is short, eternity is forever. Keep suffering for good things, so that heaven will be more densely populated. Your suffering is not being wasted! It’s being used in heaven! God notices what you’re doing! Keep going! He’s with you! Sunday is closer than you think!
A prayer for you: Dad, I know you love us, and I know you are with us. But so many of these dear readers are in deep pain today. They are suffering. Like Christ, we know that suffering will ultimately result in wonderful things, but we still don’t like it. Paul said in Romans 8, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us,” and we believe that. But still, today, I’m asking for an extra portion of your grace. We need to feel your strength! Help us! We trust you, we count all our suffering as joy, but we still want you to hurry up and get us out of this storm. Please. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.