Imagine if you will that we are in the studio audience for a game show. Now look on stage at the three doors you and I could choose – consider this:
- 1. Behind door number one – an extreme makeover for your house – your dream home right here. It could be in the most wonderful, as they say in real estate, location, location, location. It comes complete with choice of style, the most amazing appliances in a dream kitchen, a garage-workshop lined with the best power tools, and curb appeal to impress any and all guests.
- Behind door number two is the perfect family. Everyone is on their best behavior, everyone gets along and they are your pride and joy. Enough said.
- 3. And behind door number three is a simple sign that says, “Suffering that you might grow closer to Christ.”
Our human natures wouldn’t let us to choose and open that third door. We wouldn’t. As much as we would like to think we would, none of us wants to suffer.
As difficult as it is to consider, here are some positive things suffering can do:
- Suffering establishes a common denominator with others who suffer in different ways. It might be health issues, an aggressive cancer, a financial reversal, a job loss, the loss of someone close to us through death, the end of a treasured relationship, the list goes on….but when we accept suffering, unjust as it may be, we “get” the suffering of others and can give and receive sympathy on a whole new level.
- Suffering can make us more tender-hearted and compassionate and use the fueled energy for something good. Many powerful society-changing movements are birthed out of suffering. We are seldom moved to sacrificial action when life is easy. It takes those circumstances that tear us apart inside to give us the courage, determination and energy to make a difference.
- Suffering saves us from living a superficial mediocre life.
- Suffering helps us understand what is important, and what is not.
- Suffering shines the light on what position God holds in our lives.
- Suffering helps us to identify with Christ with the realization that He suffered more and so He understands on a level of no one else. What Jesus willingly took on in submitting to a crucifixion is described as excruciating mentally, physically and spiritually. Jesus “gets” our suffering.
- Suffering can increase our thirst to know Christ more intimately.
- Suffering refines us. It is a tough process, but suffering is able to burn away things like pride, a self-sufficient attitude, a tendency toward resentment and a host of other things that can cause war within our souls.
- Suffering enlarges our ability to trust in God alone for our future.
- Suffering makes us long for heaven. Suffering helps us understand it’s not all here and now and that some day in His timing, God will have the final word on everything.
We would never in a million years choose suffering. But when it chooses us we can purpose ourselves and encourage each other to search out those silver linings to the dark clouds on our horizons. How grateful I am for the kind words, selfless work and encouragements given to me. They have made many days endurable, comforting and even hopeful. Maybe our suffering will be used – somehow in someway – to make a brighter day for someone else. Just perhaps something significant will grow out of the unlikely soil of anguish. That gives a sense of hope when we are deep in hurt. We all want something that outlasts us and our suffering, painful though it is, is an oft-used vehicle for powerful positive change.