Does Good Come Out of Suffering?
My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to Your decrees. ~ Psalm 119:71 NLT
Suffering is often excruciating and overwhelming. But since we serve a God of redemption, there is always a positive flip side. Though hard to see in the moment, hindsight reveals a larger, eternal purpose in our pain.
Suffering Gets Our Attention
Pain tells us that something is wrong. Though our first response is to "fix it" ourselves, God desires for us to include Him in the solution. When we reach an all-time low, when we run out of options, when we fully realize we are powerless to help ourselves get relief, then we are ready to cry out to God for help. The best outcome of our experience is turning to God as a first, not a last resort. (Psalm 34:19; Psalm 119:67).
Suffering Produces Positive Change
We humans are naturally resistant to change. Change is hard, uncomfortable, and unpredictable. However, all growth requires change; suffering is a vehicle to growth that produces good, wholesome fruit like endurance, faith, hope, character, and steadfastness--all things we need to live a gospel-centered, peaceful life! (1 Peter 5:10; Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4)
Suffering Draws Us Closer to Jesus
Trials are the primary path to our relating to Jesus, and His relating to us. When we remember that Christ went before and suffered, that He experienced every feeling we could feel, we know we have a divine Friend who "gets it" (Isaiah 53:4, 2 Cor. 1:5, Hebrews 4:15), Furthermore, when we suffer, Jesus leans in and relates to us, comforting us as One who suffers with us because He is in us (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, 1 Peter 2:19-21, Rom. 8:35, 1 Peter 4:1).
Suffering Corrects Our Priorities
When we suffer, we are wise to re-evaluate what is most important to us. If we are chasing after idols (anything that takes our attention away from God, and is ultimately useless in meeting our needs), we need to purge them. A correct alignment prioritizes our relationship with Jesus first, and loving others out of that overflow. If we are not self-correcting on a regular basis, we will naturally gravitate toward unfulfilling means of relief, and we will suffer as a result (Psalm 119:67, 71; Matt. 10:39; 1 Peter 1:6-7)
Suffering Is Transcended by Glory
Best of all, God promises that our suffering is not wasted, and it won't last forever. Though our trials seem never-ending, they are short-lived in light of the glory that is imminently headed our way! (Romans 8:18, John 16:33, Rev. 21:4, 2 Cor. 4:17, James 1:12.)
You're Never Alone
Jesus Himself walks with us in our suffering. He knows what it's like, and He knows the outcome. There's a purpose in the trial, and because we serve a good God, the result is life-giving. I know this is hard to hear, especially when you're in the middle of it. On the days when you think you can't put your foot forward even one more step, remember that God is for you, not against you (Romans 8:31). He wants you to see truth--He wants you to experience Him! Sometimes He reaches you through others who truly care. Don't be afraid to ask for help--that's what children of the Kingdom are for.
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©2022 Julianne Knapp. First Published 11.1.22