Yesterday I caught a peek at the cover of the latest edition of People magazine as I stood in line at the grocery store. There in the picture stood three women – Mery Daniel, Adrianne Haslet, and Heather Abbot – who all lost limbs in the Boston Marathon bombing. Now, seven weeks later they are telling their stories of hope and healing. While the physical and emotional pain is beyond what most of us will ever experience – I’m sure – their stories remind us of the good that can come out of suffering.
Suffering of all types hurts. It hurts to go through it. It hurts. . . a lot. . .to watch your kids suffer. In a youth culture pervaded by bullying, our kids may sometimes suffer injustice at the hands of others. Sometimes, their suffering is brought on by choices they’ve made of that have been made by others. At other times, circumstances related to illness or accidents are the cause of their suffering.
The Scriptures teach us that because of the flawed nature of ourselves and our world, we should not be surprised by difficulty and suffering. In fact, times of difficulty, pain, and suffering are what God uses to draw us to Himself, to conform us to His likeness, and to whittle off all that extra “fluff” that keeps us from maturing in our faith.
The Psalmist knew this to be the case. In Psalm 119:71 we read, “My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.” James tells us that we should “consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2). Really??? Why??? Because this testing of our faith produces perseverance and maturity.
When we and/or our kids suffer, it might actually be good for the simple reason that God is at work in our lives. While we want to ourselves and those we love to thrive in a life free of hurt and pain, we shouldn’t miss the opportunity to learn, grow, and mature as we persevere through suffering.