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how to deal with suffering

How to Deal With Suffering: 5 Greatest Lessons You Can Learn From Your Pain

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Would you like to know how to deal with suffering? Personally, I am not a fan of the whole concept, but I am starting to understand why God allows it.

My flesh wants to lash out in anger when I experience pain, but my heart calls me to dig deeper.

You see, for many years I thought God was cruel and mean. Since I have experienced some emotional healing, I now see God more like a loving Father.

However, sometimes loving fathers allow their children to suffer in life. It seems harsh, but I have learned this is usually the best way to grow as a person. In the end, we have to trust God loves us, and He is doing what is best for us long term. Even if it hurts.

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What is a little hard to swallow is that God wants us to follow after Jesus’ example. Yikes!! He suffered a lot. 

Although I am still processing what this looks like in everyday life, I can clearly see the overall idea: Life isn’t always easy, and God meant it that way.

In this post, I am going to show you how to deal with suffering in life. Perhaps it will help you see the light at the end of the tunnel and give you hope in your darkest hour.  

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How to Deal With Suffering: 5 Greatest Lessons From Suffering In Life

Here are five reasons why we go through suffering in life and how to deal with suffering when it happens. It is not an easy thing to go through, but if you understand the positive effects of suffering it will help you endure until the end of your trial.

1. Suffering draws us closer to God

How many of you are on your knees talking to God daily when life is pretty good? Perhaps your life is not perfect, but it is not a “code blue” status.

Suddenly, a crisis comes along, and the tables turn. God becomes important. You start begging Him to do something and change the circumstances–to remove the suffering. However, God sees it as an opportunity to draw us to Him.

When we draw closer to Him, we grow and become more like Jesus. However, it takes a little pain to prompt us.

Personally, I didn’t learn how to pray intensely until I hit a crisis in my own life. I had nowhere to turn but to God. And He answered through prayer. I am so grateful I ran to Him instead of away from Him.

The best way to deal with suffering is to pray. 

Psalms 34:18 says, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

RELATED: 5 Awesome Truths When You Feel God Has Left You

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2. Suffering opens doors to share Christ

How did you come to Christ? I bet it wasn’t because you were having a grand ol’ time! Most likely, there was a point of crisis or need that made you bend your knee to the One greater than you. In fact, you were probably suffering in pain.

Fortunately, our brokenness is the very thing that creates a beautiful testimony and, by the way, the greatest way to share Christ.

No one can argue with your testimony, discount it, or deny a personal experience. It is your unique story about how God came down and rescued you from your mess.

If you haven’t thought about your testimony, this is a good time to write it down. God wants to use it for His glory.

How to deal with suffering? People who are suffering are more likely to listen to the gospel. Share your faith. Volunteer. This will help you get your eyes off yourself and on to others.

2 Timothy 4:5  says, “But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.” NLT

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3. Suffering refines us.

God is more concerned with our character than our comfort. He wants to make us reflect Jesus. And that doesn’t come naturally. To put it bluntly, we are naturally selfish and self-absorbed creatures full of pride. Basically, we don’t think we need Him.

When we suffer pain, it draws out our sinful behavior. We have to admit we need help and humbly submit to God’s way instead of our own way. Sadly, some people are stubborn and may need more “field trips” than others. Do you recall the Israelites going around the mountain for forty years? Yep, field trip.

How to deal with suffering?  Bend your knee to the Savior sooner rather than later. It may shorten your time of pain. Allow God to refine you.

What does the Bible say about suffering? Check this out.

Malachi 3: 3-4 says, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years. NIV

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4. Suffering gives us strength.

I was born a natural wimp. Let’s just say I was never a fan of sports or adventure. I would rather read books about other people’s courageous adventures while I am at home in my bed curled up in my blankets. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help develop strength.

After many years, I have found that experiencing suffering is what has developed muscles of faith. You see, strength comes from doing. Even failing is a part of that process.

Honestly, I think failure is a better teacher than success.

There are so many more lessons to be learned when we don’t get things right because, generally, we are paying more attention to what happened. Or didn’t happen…We are more malleable for the potter, and in the end, much stronger for going through the trial.

How to deal with suffering? Realize you are being strengthened in your faith. What does the Bible say about suffering? It says to count it all joy when you are in a trial. 

I know, right? Not easy. 

James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (ESV)

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5. Suffering gives others hope.

I can think of countless testimonies where God has intervened in miraculous ways through suffering. Perhaps, it wasn’t always the perfect outcome, but God made Himself known throughout the trial.

When I am down, the first thing I do is look at how others have made it through their time of suffering in pain. I like reading stories of triumph, heroes that have overcome all the odds, or how ordinary people cope with the hardest of circumstances.

Most of all, I enjoy reading quotes from famous people who have suffered in life. I don’t feel so alone when I hear what they have been through. Talking about our pain is one of the best ways to deal with suffering. It gives hope to others who are a few steps behind.

Romans 5:3-4 says, “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” NIV

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Quotes From Christian Leaders Who Have Experienced Pain and Suffering

Here are some inspirational quotes from Christian leaders who know how to deal with suffering. I think you will find these sayings quite revealing. They have learned how to trust God through their darkest hours.

After you read these quotes, you will realize suffering in life has no respecter of persons. In fact, most people who are in ministry have suffered greatly. Once you read these words of inspiration, you will see what I mean.

“Pain removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul.”~ C.S. Lewis

“I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.”~ Elizabeth Elliot

“No matter what precautions we take, no matter how well we have put together a good life, no matter how hard we have worked to be healthy, wealthy, comfortable with friends and family, and successful with our career — something will inevitably ruin it.”~ Tim Keller

“When you suffer and lose, that does not mean you are being disobedient to God. In fact, it might mean you’re right in the center of His will. The path of obedience is often marked by times of suffering and loss.”~ Chuck Swindoll

“It may be difficult to understand why a test comes our way, but we must never forget that the test is accomplishing refining and purification.”~ Billy Graham

“Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.”~ Helen Keller

“They gave our Master a crown of thorns. Why do we hope for a crown of roses?”~ Martin Luther

“I assure you that some of the most awesome things God has ever done for me have come out of the most awful things I’d done to myself.”~ Beth Moore

It is amazing to see these great men and women know how to deal with suffering. It didn’t come easy for them. In fact, it took a lot of suffering to get them to where they are now.

Why Do We Go Through Suffering?

In closing, remember God works through suffering because He has our attention. Are we to think that when we follow Jesus that we will never suffer for our faith? Not so. In fact, we should expect suffering. Sometimes that is the only way we will stop and evaluate our direction, behavior, or ideas.

Before you start down an angry path, ask God what He is doing and then try to join His plan.

It will make it much easier if you and God are both rowing in the same direction, even if it feels like you are rowing toward a waterfall. As long as God is in the boat, you will never drown.

When asking how to deal with suffering, the biggest take away is to trust God no matter how hard it is. He is in control and has a better plan than you can imagine. It doesn’t matter if you have brought on your suffering with your own mistakes. He can still use it for good.

Related: How to Quickly Overcome a Failure or Loss

Do you know how to deal with suffering in your life?

Do You Have Family Problems? There is Help!

Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family, but it also gives solid tips to help you with your family problems. Break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.

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Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids.  It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.

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Join Christian Family Living Facebook Group

Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Family Living. This is a place for Christian women to share their experiences and get helpful tools to navigate the Christian life. We love to laugh, cry, and encourage each other to live out our faith one day at a time.

20 thoughts on “How to Deal With Suffering: 5 Greatest Lessons You Can Learn From Your Pain”

  1. Elizabeth Elliot was right, pain is necessary. We don’t get out of life without it. For many we let it divide and isolate, for others it makes us more apt to relate to fellow sufferers. This is a great blog post on pain. It’s a great reminder and perspective shift.

    1. Laura, thanks so much for your comments. I do find that suffering is a difficult pill to swallow. I’m still not a fan of the whole thing, but I’m learning to trust God more in my pain.

  2. This is super inspirational. I love the elements of faith throughout the post. I don’t think God allows us to suffer, but rather allows us to come to Him when we are so that we can get through it! I think its just a part of life that without suffering there would be no compassion, and He doesn’t cause it, but rather wants us to seek Him and He helps us get through! 🙂

    Natalie
    http://www.thegracereal.com

    1. Natalie, thanks for your comment. I do know if God allows suffering, but not sure if He causes it. It seems that the story of Job is a direct example of God telling Satan to do whatever He wants to Job except for death. Is that “allow” or “cause”? I don’t know. But I know that in either case, God uses pain to draw us back to Him. Hard thing to work through, huh?

  3. What an amazing and exceptional post! I absolutely agree with what you put up in this post . No one love trials /tribulations and from my experience in life , It actually prepares us for greater purpose ahead of us in our lives . I love this post and I want to appreciate God on your lives . This pose has to go viral so a lot can understand that God is a good father . He won’t let us pass through what can kill us . Never .

    1. Lambam, thank you for your thoughtful insights. I am just now learning about God’s love and what it entails. I think so many people get tripped up on how a good God allows pain, but then they forget that real love means free will. (Control is not love, therefore he would never make up puppets). Free will means pain. Unfortunately, some pain is not our fault. We have to deal with the fallout though. And that is where He shines best.

  4. I think we go through trials and tribulations because we live in a fallen world and we just have to deal with the consequences of that. I believe God is a loving Father that will never want to see His kids suffer. His love for us is bigger than the love we have for our kids or our parents. That’s why I know that is never God’s will for us to suffer in order to grow, learn and mature. We have the Word of God to help us with that. I completely agree with the lessons we can learn from our sufferings because God uses everything for our good. Great post!

    1. Caroline, thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. Yes, we definitely do suffer consequences because we live in a fallen world. I can say as a parent that I have stepped back and let my kids follow through with their own way only to see that they needed a little pain for growth. God is love, but sometimes it is tough love.

  5. Julie, what a great reminder that as Christ followers we must expect suffering and that through suffering Christ will be with us, providing and protecting us, as we are refined and transformed. Most people would do almost anything to avoid suffering altogether, but when we call ourselves believers we need to look at suffering through a different lens.

    1. Anne, it is amazing how God’s economy is so different from the world. He who loses his life shall find it. such a deep meaning in that verse. Thanks for your comment.

  6. What a beautiful post! I completely have experienced drawing closer to my Jesus more during suffering than in good times. AND He has stepped in miraculously many times. It does make me quick and joyful to share and also brings others hope. I also look to others for their experience through things I haven’t gone through before, and I find lots of hope in Jesus when I do that. ❤

    1. Donna, thank you so much for your sweet remarks. I am so glad you have a good understanding of suffering. God does step in miraculous ways when we think all is lost. Many blessings to you.

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