by Yolanda Stith
Yes, suffering is a gift. While it is not usually one that we look forward to, its benefits far out-weigh its negatives. In a perfect world there is no need for suffering. The world was created in all its beauty, both mankind and the world around them, perfect; however, when evil corrupted what God had created, man became self-centered, filled with evil intentions and all of creation was infected by sin.
Suffering is the remedy for sin. Jesus suffered beyond comprehension for the behalf of humanity and to redeem God’s creation. We suffer, too; sometimes as a result of the world we live in and sometimes due to our own selfish choices. Suffering forces us to take personal inventory, as it did with Job. It humbles us and breaks down pride and ego. It is a cruel reminder that we are not in-control and the temptation to be “god” was nothing more than a ploy to lead us astray and destroy God’s beautiful creation.
I’ve suffered greatly in my life, but I am certain there are others what have suffered more–a young man, barely out of his 20’s, a triple amputee from Afghanistan who no longer believes there is a God; a woman who lost her home after her abusive marriage fell apart and can’t make enough money to support her and her daughters; a baby born with multiple defects, just to name a few.
In my own suffering after my husband Ken died last summer, I came to realize that my response to it was going to make all the difference in the world. I can’t change anything. I could become angry and bitter and walk away from God, as some do, but he’s my ONLY hope and I know this in the depths of my soul. I began to think about the suffering as a gift, a gift that would open my eyes to greater things, even though I’m not entirely sure what those things are at this point.
Sorrow has forced me to look at myself, my motives and attitudes, and be willing for God to take me deeper into the interior life with him. This “perfect storm” and “dark night of the soul” of sorrow reveal hidden depths within that go unnoticed when we live on the surface of life.
The Scriptures are filled with examples of men and women whom have endured God’s school of adversity and discovered the great gift that was prepared for them. Without the night, we cannot enjoy the stars, without the pain, we cannot experience God’s comfort, and without the valleys and deserts, we will never truly know the joy of God’s mountain tops and Living Water!
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)
Yolanda is co-founder of New Heart Living of Bethesda, MD.