7 Beautiful Truths for Times of Suffering

7 Beautiful Truths for Times of Suffering

Getting through life without suffering is an impossibility, but learning and growing as a result of suffering results in some of life’s greatest lessons.

I’ve been reluctant to write this post about suffering because, frankly, I’ve wondered if anyone would read it. People shy away from the thought of suffering. Some people have the superstitious idea that if they read or think about suffering, they might be the next ones to suffer.Getting through life without suffering is an impossibility, but learning and growing as a result of suffering results in some of life's greatest lessons.

Dear Christian friends, in this life you will experience suffering. Trying to avoid the topic will not remove its inevitability.

In my almost 70 years of life, God has taught me some beautiful lessons, and one of those lessons is about suffering. Just as roses have thorns, life has suffering; but just as thorns are a part of the beautiful rosebush, suffering is part of a beautiful life.

One of the worst, and first, times of suffering in my life was when I had to watch my dad suffer with the disease of multiple sclerosis. He began to have trouble swallowing and would strangle while just trying to get a sip of water.

Getting through life without suffering is an impossibility, but learning and growing as a result of suffering results in some of life's greatest lessons. I cried out to God, “Why can’t you let my Daddy do something as simple as getting a drink?”

During this time, I was a seminary student. I was taking a Systematic Theology class taught by Dr. John Kiwiet. Possibly the best teacher I ever had in my life, I loved Dr. Kiwiet! He was from Holland.

As a young man, during World War II, he was put in a Nazi labor camp. Dr. Kiwiet knew about suffering.

After class one day, I made an appointment to visit with him in his office. I needed to get some insight into my feelings about my daddy’s suffering. The conversation was a life-changer! I will always be grateful to Dr. Kiwiet for opening my eyes to the beauty of suffering.

Over the years, I’ve learned many things about suffering. I’ve narrowed it down to seven truths:

1. Our suffering is one of the beautiful threads in the tapestry of God’s Kingdom Story!

This is the main lesson that I learned from Dr. Kiwiet that day in his office. He explained that we each have a part to play in God’s kingdom purposes.

I can hear my professor’s beautiful Dutch accent:

“In God’s overarching plan of redemption and restoration, each Christian has a vital role. Imagine that God’s plan from beginning to end is a huge and beautiful tapestry. Right now, we can only see the back. From this view, our suffering looks like ugliness, for all we see are the jumbled threads of our individual suffering and the stories of hardship and suffering through history and throughout the world.

“What I learned from my time in the labor prison, and what I believe about all Christian suffering is that these things are somehow necessary in God’s redemptive plan. One day, your Heavenly Father will turn the tapestry over to show your Earthly Father his remarkably beautiful portion of the picture! 

“Just as Christ’s suffering was necessary for God’s plan on earth, in some smaller but essential way, so is ours. I’m sure of this.”

After our amazing conversation, I dried my eyes and walked out of Dr. Kiwiet’s office with renewed confidence, comfort, and hope.

2. Suffering drives us to the Bible and prayer.

Dr. Kiwiet’s tapestry analogy was perfect for me because I love to do needlework.7 Beautiful Truths for Times of Suffering (colorful threads)

Since that eventful conversation, I have thought many times about Bible study and prayer as threads for weaving life’s tapestry.

We are more likely to dig deep into the Word of God when we are driven there to look for answers to the questions about our own pain and suffering. There we find balm for our pain, salve for our wounds, blessings to renew us and lift us, lessons for life, promises and hope for a better tomorrow.

The Bible confirms this.  Psalm 119:67 says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” And in verse 71, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.”

In the Bible we find balm for our pain, blessings to renew us, and hope for a better tomorrow. Click To Tweet

3. Suffering is part of the purification process for the purpose of preparing a Christian for spending eternity with Holy God.

We are the church, the bride of Christ. How can we ever become holy and pure enough to be ready as the bride of Christ. We are to be refined like silver and gold. Sin must go. Sin is consumed in the refiner’s fire.  The Bible tells us that “Jesus Christ gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”  –Titus 2:14

“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.”  –Isaiah 48:10

Getting through life without suffering is an impossibility, but learning and growing as a result of suffering results in some of life's greatest lessons.I’ve never actually seen a refiner’s fire, but I have experienced something that reminds me of it, and it happens to correlate to Dr. Kiwiet’s tapestry story. I once attended a workshop to learn how to dye yarns. Tapestry wool doesn’t come off the sheep in beautiful colors. It has to be cleaned, carded, spun into yarn, and dyed. The dye is heated to very hot temperatures before placing the yarn in the dye bath. This process must be precisely measured and carefully timed. From sheep to tapestry requires a great amount of work and effort, not unlike the production of silver and gold. But without this difficult and time-consuming labor, there would be no beautiful yarns and no tapestry.

As Warren Wiersbe has said, “When God puts His own people into the furnace, He keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat. He knows how long and how much.” None of us want to endure the refiner’s fire, but all of us want the result: to one day stand before God as the pure, holy, spotless, and refined bride of Christ.

4. Suffering enables the sacrifice of praise.

The book of Job shows us there can be two ways to respond to suffering, one that curses God because of suffering and one that praises God, even in the midst of suffering (Job 2:9–10).

The term “sacrifice of praise” is found in Hebrews 13:15: “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” It’s easy to praise God when life is great, but not nearly as easy during times of trial, sorrow, and suffering.

We are not to behave as if praise rewards God when He blesses, and we are not to withhold praise when we don’t understand what He’s doing. Oh no! Praising God during the difficult times says, “God, you are always worthy of praise. Like Job, I will trust the Lord who does all things well.” The sacrifice of praise comes from a humble and trusting heart.

5. Through suffering, we can begin, in the smallest way, to identify with Christ in His suffering for us.7 Beautiful Truths for Times of Suffering(rose)

Paul says, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings.” –Philippians 3:8-10

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. –I Peter 2:21

Our suffering can provide the deepest and sweetest fellowship with Jesus that we have ever known.

6. Suffering equips us to be able to comfort others.

Your pain and suffering is not just about you. It encourages me to understand that the Lord will use my suffering to help someone else. I understand how valuable this is because of the way that Dr. Kiwiet helped me. Why did I go to Dr. Kiwiet? Why did I believe what he told me? I believed him because of the suffering that he went through in World War II. I imagined that what he experienced was even worse than what I was experiencing. Because of that, I had confidence in what he told me, and it brought me tremendous comfort.

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:4 that God “comforts us in all afflictions, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

What causes people to turn to a Christian for help and guidance? I believe the answer is strength. I was feeling weak, helpless, and afraid when I sought guidance from my professor. I needed help. Wanting to find a way to bear the weight of the inevitable continued sadness of my dad’s illness, I couldn’t conjure up my own strength. I needed the strength of God. Walking in the strength of God will eventually cause others to turn to you when they are hurting.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”  –I Peter 5:10

7. Suffering Causes Us to Look Forward to Our Heavenly Home

Getting through life without suffering is an impossibility, but learning and growing as a result of suffering results in some of life's greatest lessons.We are just pilgrims passing through this earth place with all of its trouble and sorrow. If the Christian life only consisted of good things and constant blessings, we wouldn’t want to leave this world.

Because of pain and suffering, we long for our eternal home. “The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” –Romans 8:18

These seven truths are by no means an exhaustive study of suffering. They are only what the title says: seven truths about suffering, which I think are beautiful. I hope you think so too.

Christian, you can trust God. As my favorite preacher often said, “Lean wa-a-a-a-ay back on the bosom of God!” He has every thread in the tapestry perfectly and beautifully stitched from one side to the other and top to bottom. Whatever you’re suffering, it’s not the end of your story. Even though you can’t see it now, one day God will show you that it was a beautiful part of His Kingdom Story.

 


Blessed to link up this week with Dance with Jesus, Faith ‘n Friends, and The Loft.


The images below are designed for sharing on Pinterest.
If this story has blessed you, I hope that you will bless others by sharing it on your social media. Thank you!

Getting through life without suffering is an impossibility, but learning and growing as a result of suffering results in some of life's greatest lessons. Getting through life without suffering is an impossibility, but learning and growing as a result of suffering results in some of life's greatest lessons.

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me JOY, --Psalm 94-19

Comments

  1. Mary Ledbetter :

    This hits home! Very good!

  2. Beautiful Rosemary. Yes suffering is hard work yet our God shines His brightest light in our darkest moments.
    Please share on the DanceWithJesus linkup to bless someone there. SusanBMead.com/symphony

    Hugs. Susan

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