The Gift of Suffering: Clarity

lord386-pictureLast week I was having lunch with Keith one of our amazing staff members at Community Church. If you have met him, you know he is an encourager extraordinaire and has a contagious passion for life. While we ate he shared why he is so pumped about life. He said he began looking at life differently after he faced a series of brain surgeries. He went through a long journey of suffering and found God’s purpose in it. Now, he said, he is unwilling to waste a single day of his life. (By the way, if you want to meet Keith, join the Community Church Clean Team on Tuesday mornings at 9:00am. He leads it.)

When we suffer, many times, the result is great clarity. Through the challenges we begin to see the world around us with new clarity. Lose a job, get a difficult health prognosis, watch your parent die, experience chronic pain and much about your life will come into crystal clear focus. You learn that God is nearer than you realized. You discover there are issues of pride and self-reliance that you didn’t see before. You see how overworked, stressed and tired you are. You realize that the people in your life are of great value.

When suffering causes clarity there is one question you must answer. What will I do with the information that I have?

Here are a few ways to take advantage of times of clarity.

  • Capture your insights. During times of suffering journal your thoughts and insights. You may not be able to act on them at that moment, but the words in your journal may end up being one of your most valuable resources.
  • Tell someone you trust. One of the ways to turn clarity into action is to confide in someone you trust. Find someone in your small group, your family or circle of friends that will help you process what you have learned and encourage you to make changes where necessary.
  • Depend upon God. Often the greatest opportunity for spiritual growth is during times of suffering. Take advantage of this time to completely depend upon God. Amp up your prayer life and listen for God’s voice. Read God’s word and look for ways to apply it. Be open to how God wants to mature your character and make you more like Christ.

“but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

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7 thoughts on “The Gift of Suffering: Clarity

  1. I’ve always been prey blown away and deeply challenged by the account of the apostles in Acts 5:27-41. They had been called before the Jewish Council to answer for their preaching the gospel. They didn’t obey the order to stop, so after some discussion the were flogged and sent away. Verse 41 really grabs me. 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

    I have a hard time imagining myself rejoicing after being beaten. In this country we seldom suffer persecution, and if we did we would most likely hire a lawyer and fight it. So as Christians how are we supposed to share in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:13) unless it’s through sickness, loss or circumstantial trials? Some how a lot of us have got it in our head that if we follow Jesus everything should be coming up roses. Don’t know what Bible they’re reading but its not the same as mine. Check out Hebrews11:35-39.

    Suffering is a part of life. Not a fun part but a growing, maturing, faith building, necessary part. Embrace it and you will find Jesus embracing you.

    • That truly is an extraordinary account of rejoicing in suffering. It is difficult to understand that kind of strength looking from the outside. I believe God gives us strength when we need it. It is comforting to know that his peace is customized to our unique time of need.

  2. Thank you for this insight. I am going through suffering times – my mom passed away in the fall and I am watching m;y dad suffer daily as he deals with congestive heart failure and becomes consistently weaker. You have expressed it eloquently with regards to realizing that God is very close during these times. I am exhausted, overworked, and stressed as you mentioned, but it does provide clarity and insight. I have learned that times of stress ahd hardship make you seek God and that is good. Thank you for this – it came at a good time.

    • I have yet to walk through the death of a parent. The challenge of watching a parent suffer is a suffering in and of itself. Glad the timing of this post was helpful. Grace and Peace, C.G.

    • We went through that with my dad a couple years ago. He and Mom moved in with us for the last 10 months of his life. Hard? Yes. Stressful? Yes. Would I do it any differently now.? NO!!! I am so grateful for the final time we had together even though it hurt. It’s never easy watching a loved on pass away but it’s a lot easier than living with regrets.

  3. This is an awesome truth that fits very nicely with Sunday’s sermon. It’s a topic we don’t usually want to look at too deeply because we don’t really want to suffer. There is so much suffering among and around us. There are always so many questions. We prefer life easy, carefree, good, and would rather without suffering. That’s not reality. I hope your thoughts here and last Sunday will help free those currently suffering who with broken hearts have not been able to see a way out!

    • Hi Karen. It is important for us to talk about suffering. It is one of our culture’s most significant questions of faith. There is hope in suffering that can turn something painful into something life-giving. Thanks.

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