By Cortni Marrazzo, Crosswalk.com
The Bible is full of wisdom and truth, but do you ever come across a verse that is frankly, a bit hard to embrace? Like Romans 5:3, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance…” When we are suffering, typically the last thing we want to do is rejoice and we often wonder if it’s even possible to do! Even though there are some things in the Bible that seem impossible, we are reminded in the very same book that with God, ALL things are possible (Matthew 19:26).
I personally love the fact that all things are possible with God, but sometimes am not too fond of the fact that nowhere in the Bible does it say things will be easy. Let’s face it, when you are suffering, not much seems to come easy. I’ve recently been struggling with a bit of suffering in my life and I took some time to seek God about what I can learn from this season and how I can grow through it. Whether you are going through physical or emotional suffering, these can apply to you too.
When You Are Suffering, You Become More Aware of God’s Strength in Your Life
At the time of writing this, I’m currently dealing with all day sickness, every day for weeks. Thankfully I haven’t been diagnosed with a life threatening disease - I’m pregnant and have a severe case of morning sickness. I’ve been nauseous, often unable to hold food down for more than a month now and this will likely be the case for another few weeks. When I feel sick and run down every day, it really has a tendency to zap my strength, especially when I’m trying to fulfill other responsibilities in my life at the same time.
I noticed that during this time, I’ve felt my weakest. There is honestly no way I could get out of bed every day without the power of God’s strength working in me. I’m typically a person who is strong for others and who can push my way past whatever is going on in my life, but often that is done in my own strength. This season of suffering has left me without my own strength to act in, and I am much more aware of the strength of God in my life. It is very humbling.
Paul knew this feeling too. “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Paul realized that when he was so physically weak that he could barely stand to be alive, that is when God’s strength rose up the most in him. He knew that God’s strength in us is so much more powerful than our own human strength, therefore he learned to be content in his weakness of suffering! I’m still working on the contentment here, but I can feel that God is bringing me closer.
When You Are Suffering, Your Trust in God and Your Faith Increases
When you are at the end of yourself, you learn to trust God more because frankly, what else are you going to do? You’re at the end of you, and that’s where you find that God is so faithful in your life and with his promises. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). I love the second part of this verse about not depending on our own understanding because the majority of the time, we don’t understand why we are suffering. We can ask God “why?” all day long, but he’s not obligated to answer us because he is building our trust in him. So instead of leaning on our own understanding and demanding to know why, we are simply to trust him to teach us and help us grow through whatever situation we may be facing.
I personally have also learned to stop depending on my own achievements, because I haven’t been achieving much lately! I’m normally great at doing lots of things, checking off my to-do list and then finding value in everything I’ve accomplished that day/week/month. Lately however, my to-do list has consisted more of making it through the day and not much else. I’ve learned to remember my worth is in God, not in what I do or what people think of me. When you are zapped of energy from suffering, you stop putting on a mask to pretend to be someone you are not because you simply can't anymore. As a result, you are the real you, and that is what God can work best with!
When You Are Suffering, God Can Give You a New and Refreshed Perspective
If you take the time to listen and seek God while you are going through your trial, he can show you a lot! I know this is hard to do because often the last thing you want to do is go to God when you feel so low. I’ll admit, it was hard for me to do, but once I started praying about what I was going through and how I could grow through it, God showed me everything I’m writing right here!
He reminded me what is really important in life and that is him, my family and the people in my life. Money and things can seem so important sometimes, but in the midst of suffering, they just don’t seem as important anymore, because they aren’t. Your family and those around you, and most importantly your relationship with God are what is really most important in your life. “’Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?’ Jesus replied, ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:36-39). In the end, it is all about God and people.
During your most difficult trying times, you will also often learn just how amazing the people in your life truly are. If you are often a person who tries to help and support others (like I am) it can be especially difficult to ask for and accept help when you need it. Just as you are blessed when you help others, there comes a time for others to be blessed by helping you! When I was feeling especially sick and stressed for a few weeks, I had multiple friends step in and bring us meals for dinners so I didn’t have to worry about cooking for my family and so my husband could come home from work and spend quality time with our son. Even though it was hard to ask for and accept help, it was a huge blessing for my family and it really reminded me of the wonderful people God has brought into my life!
A season of suffering isn’t the most fun or the easiest to go through, but I believe we truly can rejoice if we keep focused on the right things. It can be difficult to do, but perhaps writing them down and posting them somewhere where you will see them daily will help. Or putting a note in your phone or even just praying every day that God reminds you of the things you can really rejoice about in this season. Most importantly, remember that it is a season. You won’t be suffering forever. It will be over eventually and you will look back and think about how much you’ve grown closer to God, what a more stable and mature person you are and you will see how it really was possible to rejoice through it.
Cortni Marrazzo currently resides in Spokane, Washington with her husband Jason and 3 year old son. She has a Degree in Biblical Discipleship and has a passion for ministry and encouraging the body of Christ. She and her husband currently serve as small group directors at their local church. You can contact her at Cortn[email protected] or on Facebook.
Publication date: February 25, 2014