5 Greatest Lessons You Can Learn From Suffering
Are you in a season of suffering? Personally, I am not a fan of the whole concept, but I am starting to understand why God allows it.
Truthfully, my flesh doesn’t want to understand it at all, 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. It seems harsh, but I have learned real love means doing what is best for the child 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 ain’t gonna be easy.
In this post, I am going to share the greatest lessons you can learn from suffering. Perhaps it will help you see the light at the end of the tunnel and give you hope in your darkest hour.
5 Greatest Lessons You Can Learn From Suffering
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. Until the bottom falls out.
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.
Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
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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 broken.
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.
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
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.
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, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years. NIV
4. Suffering gives us strength.
I was born a natural wimp. Let’s just say sports and I were never great friends. 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.
I have found that in my suffering, I have developed muscles of faith I never knew I had. In fact, trusting God has helped me to accomplish things I could never do in the natural.
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 to form us as He wishes.
1 Peter 5:10 says, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” NIV
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, that is the first thing I do. I look at how others have made it through their crisis. 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. I don’t feel so alone when I hear what they have been through. Talking about our pain 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 Famous Christian Leaders Who Have Suffered
Here are some inspirational quotes from other Christian leaders who know about suffering. I think you will find them quite revealing.
Suffering has no respecter of persons. In fact, most people who are in ministry have suffered greatly. Once you read the quotes, 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
In closing, remember God works through suffering because He has our attention. Sometimes that is the only way we will stop and evaluate the direction of our life or the life of our family. 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 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.
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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