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Have you ever noticed that God helps us grow in ways that we would rather avoid? A lot of times, God teaches us through trials. For example, I might pray to have patience and then he teaches patience by putting me in situations where I need to be patient…like going to pick up a friend from the airport and getting every red light, being behind slow drivers and going through a construction zone. We can learn from our suffering, too.
My current suffering has to do with my health – debilitating migraines and fatigue (that has improved in the past 6 months or so). I want to be the mom who has people over and makes meals for others and steps in to help others at a moments notice and has dinner ready every night and the house clean all the time and laundry done (but is it ever really done?!) and not use the TV/iPad as a babysitter but some days I don’t come close to even one of those things. We don’t always get what we want though. Some days, it is an accomplishment to stay home with my son and keep him fed and not destroying everything. Other days, I can’t even accomplish that and my husband has to take a sick day because of me. I struggle with the guilt, not feeling good enough and like I’m a burden.
My Silver Linings
God is forcing me to be more intentional with my “good” time. Although I still find myself distracted by Facebook, researching/reading about something online or figuring out the best deal on something I need to buy, I am getting better with being purposeful with my time. I know that I need to spend quality time with my son and prioritize time with my husband. Through my suffering, I have learned to be more comfortable with saying no to invitations and requests to volunteer. Sometimes, I still feel guilty though.
I also know that I can commit to helping others, making meals and saying yes to things that I am called to say yes to. In my situation, it means that I can’t procrastinate or I might not be able to physically follow through on my commitment. This is hard for me. I do my best and most efficient work under the pressure of a deadline and I’m still learning to adjust to working without that pressure.
I’m learning to trust God in saying yes to things when he is calling me to say yes even though I worry that I won’t be able to follow though. I’m learning that I’m not alone & about clinging to my hope in Jesus & about prayer & health & alternative medicine and probably dozens of other things that I haven’t even realized are related yet.
Getting a bad migraine forces me to rest when I wouldn’t otherwise. It also makes me refocus on these things when I am losing that focus.
I’ve learned way more about healthy, natural living and food than I probably would have otherwise.
I’ve also learned to put my trust and hope in God more.
For we were do utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. – 2 Corinthians 1:8b-10 (ESV)
Do I like that I’m learning these things though pain and suffering? No, absolutely not. However, I am grateful for learning them. I am grateful for more intentional time with my son and my husband. I am grateful for the times I am able to serve others. But, I still feel guilty and like I’m a burden and I still need to learn how to deal with that.
What & How Can You Learn From Your Suffering?
You can learn to pray genuine, honest, guttural prayers.
You can learn through prayer and time with God and in His word. When I have a migraine, I can’t really do anything. Reading, TV, computer, phone, games, puzzles, eating, sleeping are all out. What can I do? Not much, but I can pray and I can listen.
You can look to others in your life and in the Bible (Job is a classic example of someone who endured a ton of suffering.) Chances are you have a least one friend or family member that has gone through some sort of suffering or trial. (You may not even know it.) They are great people to learn from.
If you have been suffering for a while, you can learn for looking back on you life before your suffering began and how it has changed since then. Sometimes that is hard and sad, but you can also learn how far you have come.
Through your own suffering, you can learn how to comfort others in their suffering.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. -2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV)
What is God Teaching You?
To wrap up, suffering is hard. It is unpleasant, and is also okay to lament. Sometimes they are obvious and sometimes we don’t see them for a long time, but there are silver linings to our suffering. I have identified some silver linings in my own suffering and I’m sure that I’ll learn more as time goes on. As you persevere and seek comfort in Christ, keep an eye out for silver linings and what you are learning through your trial(s).
Comment below and let me know something that you have learned or a blessing that you have received because of a trial or suffering that you have faced…or maybe are still facing. I think it is an encouragement to others when we share.