All of us suffer—but some suffer more than others. For a few, it appears that their entire lives they live with some level of pain or discomfort. The older I grow the more I can reflect upon the hurts I have endured, both physically and emotionally. Some of my wounds were self inflicted, however much of my agony is just a part of life. But lately I have seen how my suffering has opened a window to help and minister to others that are suffering, in a way others that have not suffered could not, precisely because of my identification with their hurt.
But as I have endured and “held on” when I am hurting, wounded, discouraged and feel at my wits end, I have discovered that God inevitable gives me the joy-filled opportunity to empathize with someone going through a similar trial! And as I surrender to Him while I am hurting, I have found that I can become a ray of hope and offer some answers to others are groping in the dark.
I might not totally understand disappointment, personal failure, spiritual confusion, disillusionment, personal attack and being treated unfairly, but I have experienced it—I know the bewildered feeling first hand! (And the truth is I have been one that has brought pain into the lives of others at times—-I know both sides of the pain.)
I’ve also learned that the worst thing a person can do when they do make themselves transparent and vulnerable about some painful experience, is for the have opened up to to grin and chirp back, “been there, done that”. I can’t think of four more inconsiderate words. When you’re hurting, the last treatment you want is some smug, condescending cliché. You want compassion, not a seer, prophet or a condescending explanation of why has happened has happened or what’s going to happen next as you suffer.
And still, when I think about it, it’s not the joys of life that taught me anything, it was the pains, disappointment, tears and brokenness. Pleasure teaches almost nothing; my entire education as an adult has included suffering. Pain and heartache should never be our goal, but they can’t be avoided if we want to be taught the things essential for life and growth. Parents go to great lengths to protect their sons and daughters from any hurts or bruises, but God does allow us—-and His own Son—to suffer. And He’s by far the best and most loving parent in the universe.
When I am temped to wonder why I am suffering, I find solace recalling that He (Jesus) suffered far worse , and totally unjustly; He is uniquely about to identify with my suffering. What a great God we serve.