As a friend sat crying in my arms, I was again reminded of the brokenness of this world, and how the Father wastes no hurt, no trial, no suffering, when we are committed to His glory. I listened with my heart and responded with “I know. I’m sorry,” over and over again. Life threw her a curve and I happened to be someone who understood the pain.
I understood what it’s like to live with an alcoholic.
I understood what it’s like to live with divorced parents.
I understood what it’s like to be a divorced parent.
I understood abandonment, unfairness and loneliness.
Unfortunately, I know about all of that, and more. It makes me a good listener and empathizer. But does it make me a good encourager and comforter? Perhaps. It depends on how well I endured my own trials.
I’m often reminded of God’s faithfulness to use all things for His glory.Scripture confirms suffering is part of life and that our sufferings are later used to comfort others in their trials. That seems easy enough to understand, doesn’t it?
Hold up, there’s more to it.
It is the way in which we suffer, our response to trial and our attitude toward hardship that really makes the difference.
When I unwillingly became a single mother, I had two choices: Embrace everything this world had to offer – bitterness, anger, rebellion, self-pity, and incessant complaining, or rely on God to increase my faith to endure the suffering well so that I could bring glory to Him. The hardest part was making the choice every single day.
Think about that for a moment in light of your current situation. What present suffering are you experiencing? Is it a difficult season with a teenager, job loss, emotional struggles, financial hardships? John 16:33 tells us, “In this world you will have trouble.” No one is immune to suffering – no one married or single, with kids or without kids, employed or job searching – no one. Trouble will come. How will you respond? And why does it matter?
Each of us will have an opportunity to tell our story to someone in life. Imagine sitting across the table from a woman going through the same thing you’ve experienced. How will your story impact her? Is it encouraging or disheartening? Will it be one of sadness, envy, despair and bitterness? Or will your story reflect God’s love, mercy, patience and unshakeable faith? I long to endure well, to persevere through my trials in a way that points people to the heart of God. Being conscious of this when I face difficulty in life propels me to the feet of Jesus for his divine wisdom and guidance.
Many days are easy. Others are hard. Some days feel downright impossible. In all circumstances, I encourage you to endure well – for the sake of spreading the gospel. Believe me, when you choose to do so, God uses your experiences to minister to the hurting, the broken and the desperate.