“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.’”
– John 9: 1-3
Suffering. We’ve all dealt with it. Some of us have just walked through it. Some are in the midst. Some days the pain is almost too much to bear. Some days it’s easy to lay it at Jesus’ feet. Our sufferings are not meant to make us weak, but to build us up, teach us, give us insight, strengthen our faith. Many times through my struggles I ask God – “Please don’t let me be the same at the end. Change me. Mold me. Strengthen me. And help me not to go through this and miss what you are trying to teach me!” Paul tells us in Romans 5:3-4, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Rewind back eight years ago and you wouldn’t recognize that Natalie! My second child, Brayden, had sleeping problems (and I use that phrase loosely) – I think it could be used as a means of torture. For the first two years of his life, he was up screaming for hours almost every night. On top of that, my husband was gone on many trips (he’s a pilot). Then Brayden got infected with a very serious and life threatening disease. During which I had two very difficult miscarriages. All the while in the thick of my marriage falling apart and stressed over unending medical bills to pay. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. I was exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. I had nothing left to give to my family, friends, and especially God. That was a very dark time for me and I often cringe when I walk down memory lane. But I stand as a witness that God refined me through that fire. I also stand serving a God that understands my pain. In Isaiah 53:3 it says, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Jesus understands physical pain. The loss of a loved one. The deep wound of rejection. I don’t know about you, but I never want to stand on the other side of my suffering and realize it was all in vain because I didn’t let God work IN and THROUGH me! Through Paul’s ministry he considered it a privilege to suffer for Christ. What better testimony can we give than our strengthened faith, trust in God, strong character, deeper compassion and the work of God in our lives.
Heavenly Father, today I’m really hurting. I feel alone and as if no one understands my struggles. But you do. As you comfort me Lord, help me to turn my eyes off of myself and on to you. Give me hope, when I feel hopeless. Speak your truth, when I believe the lies. Guide my life, when I feel lost. And take this broken heart and heal it. Amen.