Saturday, June 11, 2011

Suffering, Pt. 1

"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."
1 Peter 5:10

In our nearly 22 years of marriage, God has brought us through many trials. Some, in retrospect weren't that traumatic or significant, and others were definitely traumatic and life changing. 

We have lost four children to miscarriage, buried a stillborn son, had a son born dead (but thankfully revived!) with a severe - read: incompatible with life - heart defect, lost our home and belongings in a house fire while our youngest was in the hospital recovering from open heart surgery, and gone through over 2 years of un/under-employment for my husband. That would be the 'short list' of traumatic and life changing.

As you might imagine, I have given some thought to the topic of suffering. We live in a society that shuns suffering and tends to shun the sufferer. While we have certainly been shown a lot of love and care during our various trials, we have also experienced (and observed in the lives of others) abandonment during suffering.

We don't like to suffer. It's uncomfortable, difficult, unknown, and very often, lonely. Suffering lays bare our deepest beliefs, and, depending on what they are, either sets us adrift or anchors us more firmly. Suffering can bring us to misery and ruin, or suffering can be the catalyst for great growth, maturing and joy. 

Wherein lies the difference? How can we know which direction we will go when faced with a trial? It all depends on where (or on Whom) our faith and trust is placed. But faith alone is not enough. If our faith is not placed in the God of the Bible, the Creator God of the universe, then our faith will leave us flailing. Even then, faith without knowledge can still be of little help. If we don't know anything about the One in whom we place our trust, how can we really trust Him?

I believe a major problem within the church today is a lack of knowledge/relationship with our Father God. We say a lot of things about Him, which are true, but we don't know Him or His word well enough to actually believe those things. 
  • We say, "God is trustworthy." And yet we live like He's just waiting to grind us under His thumb.
  • We say, "God is faithful." But we live like He is fickle.
  • We say, "God is my provider." Yet we live like the providing is all up to us.
  • We say, "He will never leave us nor forsake us." Yet we live as if His presence is non-existent in our lives.
We say a lot of things that would 'prove' our faith, and yet we live our lives out practically as athiests.

Why don't we trust the One who created us? Who thought about us and our lives before time began? The One who numbers the very hairs on our head and who, according to Psalm 56, keeps count of our tossings, and puts our tears in a bottle, keeping record of them? Do you know what that means? God knows each tear you have cried and remembers what it was about. Do you? I know I don't remember every tear I've cried, but God does. That is how important you are to Him. 

Again, I ask, how can we trust someone we don't know? We can't. Not really. Until we have at the very least observed their actions, it is difficult to trust someone. If we observe them from afar, we might determine that a person is likely to be trustworthy or not (think: political leaders). If we are able to more closely observe someone and hear personal testimony of their character from someone we know, then we might determine that a person is true to their friends and those they come into contact with (think: a friend of a friend). If we are in relationship with someone, spend time with them and those that know them, then we know if they are trustworthy or not. We have personal, intimate knowledge of that person. Think about it ~ within your circle of friends and acquaintances, you know who you could call in an emergency and who you wouldn't think to call. Where my analogy falls flat is that at some point, every human, no matter how trustworthy, no matter how close your relationship, will fail you. It's inevitable. However, God will not. God never fails. 

Let me finish this with this thought. Suffering in our lives is not failure on God's part. If we are suffering, it does  not mean that God was taken by surprise, or that He somehow dropped the ball. God will have our lives glorify Him. God is interested in molding us into the image of His son, Jesus Christ. This just does not happen without suffering. 

"He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not."
Isaiah 53:3

I have also posted some thoughts on how this affects us as wives over on my marriage blog, Beneath Beams of Cedar  

Here is a song that speaks very much to my heart right now. I hope you enjoy it.


  1. Thanks so much for posting this. The concept of suffering and God's goodness are constantly being brought to my attention - I think He is trying to tell me something :)

    I'm reading the book "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp, and she talks about suffering and how we so forget that God is always good and always faithful. Even what we perceive as bad (the trials, the suffering) are good things because He is using them in a good way, because He is good.

  2. Thanks, Tracy! I have been thinking about that alot lately, especially when I have heard that song by Laura Story.