Monday, September 28, 2015

The Gift of Suffering


“There’s far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There’s also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting.” – Philippians 1:29 (MSG)

You can’t write a blog for people with chronic illnesses without talking about suffering. For some, it’s an everyday thing. For others, like me, it’s every now and then. Most days, I hardly think about having rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Life is good, now that I have a good treatment plan, and I’m relatively pain-free. But it’s not difficult to remember a time when that wasn’t the case.

When my disease was in full-swing, there wasn’t a day that went by when I didn’t wake up hurting. I couldn’t figure out why I was so fatigued all the time (was I lazy?) and why my fingers were too swollen to remove my wedding ring (was I getting fat?). And why did my feet hurt every time I stood up? Filled with self-doubt and unanswered questions (was I just getting old?), my life was beginning to feel like a train wreck.

I was suffering … and my family, feeling a little abandoned and frustrated with my “excuses” for not being able to do more, was suffering right alongside me.

I’ll tell you the truth. I’m glad those days are over and I have no desire to revisit them. Suffering is no fun. For anyone.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I opened my Bible the other day and ran across this verse: “And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting.”

Say whaaat??

Clearly, Paul, the writer of Philippians must have been mistaken. How can anyone think of suffering as a gift? Surely, suffering is not God’s will for us, right? Wrong. Maybe suffering is our own fault, and it will go away as soon as we turn back to God. Nope. Oh, OK, then perhaps God only allows us to suffer temporarily, so He can then show His healing power. Well, sometimes yes, sometimes no.

The Bible says that suffering, not just the release from it, is a gift from God.

How in the world could this be true? I dug deeper. What I found was a God who cares deeply about our suffering (Exodus 3:7) and hears our cries for help. And while sometimes He does rescue us, He more often delivers us in our suffering and speaks to us in our affliction (Job 36:15).

His purpose for allowing suffering is not to harm us, but to draw us closer to Him.

In good times, we are often too busy for God. But when we are hurting, we turn to Him. We mature in our faith, take joy and comfort in His presence, and find strength through Him that we can then share with others. In the midst of pain, we find His peace.

Are you suffering today? Accept this gift. May you hear your Father’s voice of love and comfort, and experience His presence and peace. Cry out to Him. He is listening. What you are going through, He may allow, but He will never leave you.

An excerpt from The Gift of Suffering by Linda W. Perkins originally appeared on Purposeful FaithGet even more encouragement on Spring Sight and by following me on FacebookPinterest, and Twitter.


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Read an excerpt of this article, along with others, on:

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19 comments:

  1. Thank you for your post Linda! Such a great reminder of suffering being a gift. Many believe it's a punishment, yet there is much freedom in seeing there is a bigger picture, purpose, and plan. His ways are higher, and thanks for sharing this my friend.

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Doris. No, suffering is never easy. Accepting it is truly an act of faith, but one that rewards us with His comfort and peace that passes ALL understanding. God bless you today!

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  2. Great post Linda! All things work together for the good of those who love Him so I choose to believe that even of those things we can;'t make sense of, He can.

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  3. Least we boast...yes suffering is real and a part of our lives. Calling us closer to our Mighty God. Lovely!

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    1. Thank you, Susan. Knowing your story, I know you have found the same answer as I - that true comfort can only come from the Lord. Blessings to you today.

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  4. What a beautiful post. Thank you for the reminder that the gift of suffering is in growing closer to our Savior.

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    1. Yes, it is, Valerie. Blessings to you and yours.

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  5. Linda, Thank you for sharing this today. You are so right. I can point to a few difficult events in my life that have been terrible to walk through and yet drew me closer to the Lord like nothing else ever did. So thankful for that! Thanks for this post!

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    1. Thanks, Angela, for visiting and sharing your experience! God bless!

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  6. This reminds me of Matthew West's Strong Enough. Once you hit rock bottom, you start reaching up. Nice post, Linda. :-)

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    1. I love that song too. It got me through single parenting! And now it will get me through new challenges. The good news is that God us always there when we reach out to Him!

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  7. Linda, that is a beautiful verse you found, about suffering being a gift. I suffered terribly from RA in my late 20's, but now I'm a walking miracle, and so grateful. Still, all kinds of suffering can be a gift, since God redeems them.

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  8. Wow, that's great, Betsy! I'd love to hear more of your story! Thanks so much for sharing.

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  9. Thank you. Linda, for writing this for us. We all have suffered in this life. I'm so glad we have a Our God and each other to lift us up.
    Visiting from #Intentional Tuesday.
    Love to you from Arizona.

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    1. Yes, we do and I too am eternally grateful! Have a blessed day, Gleniece!

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  10. Thank you. Linda, for writing this for us. We all have suffered in this life. I'm so glad we have a Our God and each other to lift us up.
    Visiting from #Intentional Tuesday.
    Love to you from Arizona.

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    1. Blessings to you, Gleniece! May you find love and comfort in His arms.

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  11. Post note: In case anyone is wanting to dig deeper in God's Word for more verses about the blessings that come with suffering, here is a blog post from Kelly Balarie that lists them: http://purposefulfaith.com/suffering-is-good/

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