The topic of suffering isn’t an easy one to touch on… but I feel as though I have had much of it at the ripe old age of 25…
The sickness & death of my mother is always a first that comes to mind… and only one year after that happened, Nick and I got married and began (what we did not know would be) an incredibly rough and rocky first year of marriage… and of course, only 4 months after we got married, I was unexpectedly pregnant with our baby boy. This is all in a span of 1.5 years. Wow.
Who knew how quickly life could move…
I have had many unexpected left turns and MANY moments where I wondered, “God, are you even there? And WHAT in the world are you doing?”
But I realized something only a week ago… I realized that I finally understand what the bible means when it claims that long suffering is a fruit of the spirit, in that it produces spiritual fruit: kindness, goodness, love, patience & grace. I understand what James means when he says,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that suffering produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.” James 1:2-4
So exactly how have I been blessed by suffering over the past several years? Here are a few answers:
- I am very aware of my brokenness-
In a good way, of course… Not that I constantly dwell on my faults, but that I’m aware of my humanness. I’ve come to realize that I am not above sin in any way, shape or form. I am no better than the people around me. And there is literally nothing I can do without the grace of God. This has truly deepened my relationship with God.
- I am less judgmental & more compassionate–
Becoming aware of your own brokenness helps you accept it in others. I have been through so much and I have made plenty of mistakes. Who am I to judge anyone for what they’ve been through or the choices they’ve made? I am as much in need of God’s grace as the next person. The ground before the cross is level.
- My joy is deep–
Before my experience of intense suffering, my happiness highly revolved around my circumstances. How are things going in my marriage? How smoothly is school going? How are my friendships doing? Am I feeling healthy? Am I looking good? Etc etc. But when you go through any type of depravity or suffering, your joy cannot be founded in your circumstances anymore. It just can’t. Or else your emotions will always be haywire. I have found a deep joy in the Lord that supersedes any circumstance. And, of course, I fall back into poor patterns sometimes, when I focus too heavily on temporary things. But above all, I have a deeper sense of joy now. And it is far more gratifying than the fleeting happiness I relied on before.