When You Are In the Crucible: Encouragement for the Sufferer

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:

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. It's right where I am today. In fact, I did sit and cry through service today and asked my husband if maybe I should take a few weeks away until I felt more settled. I'm a staff wife at our church and my heart is breaking for our church right now. My husband and I have walked through many difficult years with our church in ministry and it appears another year is heading our way. I'm thankful that God has used each trial to strengthen us and we both have grown in our love for its members during each. The thought of yet another change in our church is leaving me feeling exhausted and unsettled. Thank you for words that encouraged me. I know that God will continue to grow us through this. He already has. My heart is just heavy right now. -- AA

Elspeth said...

Very encouraging post, Jess.

Kati said...

Thank you, again.

I'm looking forward to reading the links you provided also. I really do look up to you and appreciate your encouragement and advice.

Kati

P.S. I like the new blog look :)

Jessica Connell said...

AA-
I'm so glad it spoke to you... I know it is so hard to be in that place of heaviness and exhaustion.


Elspeth-
Thanks for stopping by. I sure do like seeing more of you these days! :)


Kati-
You've been in a season of difficulty... hang in there. God really does have purpose in the suffering... some of it you may see sooner, and some of it you may not see until much, much later. Keep leaning in to hear and see what He is saying & doing.

Thanks for the comment about the blog; I've been tinkering with some things and out-and-out changing other things.

~Jess