When a friend recently shared her hurts... exposed her weak places... whispered of her doubts and her questions, in the midst of suffering, here is some of what I wrote to her.
I offer it to you, too, if you are in a wounded, hurting place:
Sounds like God has you in the crucible.
It is not an easy place to be.
I spent a lot of time in James 1 and in the Psalms when we kept getting slammed by storms.
(((hugs))) I'm sorry you're hurting.
Looking back over some pieces of my own suffering, I can now see that God has used the hard things-- the doctrinal dogmatism of my grandfather, the disowning my mother received while we were growing up, my father-in-law's death, having our first baby spend his first week in the NICU, my husband's (still) unexplained sickness, us having to leave the place we loved (China) and go to a place we did not (initially) love, three miscarriages, high levels of stress & exhaustion, and recent rejection and criticism (and more)-- all for our good.
I really do look back and see God's refining hand in each time of difficulty. James 1 talks about the purposes of suffering being to produce character in us... God means to sharpen and shape us in the crucible. It's hot in there... it hurts in there... but it is for our good.
He is making us into sanctified, holy people, set apart for Him so that we can be more useful to Him and more useful in the lives of others. People who have not suffered and found God faithful can not successfully minister and confidently point a suffering, groaning world to our faithful God.
Hebrews tells us that no discipline is pleasant at the time, but that it produces a harvest of righteousness in those who have been trained by it. When you walk through times of suffering, He is disciplining (teaching/training) you in ways that will ultimately lead to your good if you do not give up.
Lean in to your Father. Trust His good motives and His bigger vision. Press on, persevere! Sit and cry in the church service, if you need to cry, but keep going to service. Struggle through your Bible reading... but keep reading.
Keep pressing into the Savior who knows our hurts, sees every hidden thing in our hearts, and loves us and lavishes grace on us.
Trust Him. Lean in to Him.
He means it for your good.
MORE THOUGHTS ON THIS SUBJECT OF SUFFERING:
- WHAT SUFFERING PRODUCES IN US-- What BENEFITS come from suffering?
- COMFORT FOR THE PARCHED & DRY
- OUR PROBLEMS IN THE HANDS OF A KNOWN GOD-- When life is uncertain, trust the nature of your Father.
- SANITIZING THE SUFFERING RIGHT OUT OF OUR LIVES-- What is the purpose of suffering?
- STOPPING TOO SOON!-- persevere through the hard places
- CHOOSING TO SAY "BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD"-- It is not in the moment of sorrow that we should decide how to respond to sorrow
- EMBRACING SUFFERING-- What to do WHILE suffering?