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Christian living, Life's Challenges

The Privilege of Suffering

suffering

suffering (Photo credit: muffinbasket)

I was talking to a friend yesterday who suffers from  a malady that affects him every day, several times a day and sometimes totally incapacitates him, leaving him unable to move or even speak. And yet in spite of this thorn he presses on and serves God wherever he can, sometimes to the point of near total exhaustion.

He told me, “Jesus did so much for me, following his call is the least I can do for him.”

Our conversation led us to the topic of suffering and trials and what it all means, what the “point” of it all is. We talked about the thorn in the flesh that Paul wrestled with and how those thorns drive us closer to God, relyling on Him for strength when we have nothing.

“When I am weak, then I am strong.”

Not in our own strength, but in His strength.

Suffering pushes us into God’s arms, the point of total reliance on Him.

My friend, who’s thorn affects every aspect of his life, then said, “You know, if I could do life all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Sounds strange, I know. But there’s a blessing in suffering, a certain privilege that goes with travelling that valley of the shadow of death. Those who hurt–the wounded, the afficted–get to experience God in a way others never do. They see a side of their Father that is reserved for those who share in Christ’s suffering. They feel the tenderness of Daddy, His arms around them, His breath in their ears. It’s an experience that far outweighs the pain of the trial.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18, NIV)

I’ve often said that people have one of two reactions to suffering: either they turn from God and want nothing to do with Him, or they run to Him and fall into his open arms.

When suffering strikes, when trials push themselves into your life, run to your Father, rely totally on Him, abide in His presence.

There’s blessing to be found there.

Question for you: Do you know of this privilege of suffering? Have you experienced it? Or have you witnessed someone else experience it?

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About michaelkingbooks

I write stories of faith and family, love and loss, heartache and triumph. Here I blog about faith, relationships, and genuine living.

Discussion

10 thoughts on “The Privilege of Suffering

  1. Great and inspiring article Mike.

    Posted by thepottersclayhsa | April 2, 2012, 11:00 am
  2. Good subject and article 🙂 Ive learned the meaning of the verse: 2 cor 4:7 ….we keep this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us” .
    Health issues have changed me mellowed me, makes me a better person in the long run, not say I dont feel misery over it but I go to God. (also 1pet 5:10 which states what suffering does for us).
    And as the bible says I find it true we can comfort others with what we were comforted 🙂

    Posted by tana | April 2, 2012, 11:37 am
    • Yes, yes, and yes! All great stuff, Tana. It’s important to be honest with ourselves, with others, and with God . . . suffering stinks, but there is a blessing there, many blessings, actually. And like you said, we can take our experience and comfort/encourage someone else with the things we’ve learned.

      Posted by mikedellosso | April 2, 2012, 11:54 am
  3. I have suffered with chronic illness for years. I learned long ago to thank God for the bad as well as the good in my life, but it hadn’t occurred to me to consider this suffering as a privilege. So thank you for this article!

    Posted by Kyria Baker | April 2, 2012, 12:40 pm
    • Kyria, it’s a totally different perspective than we’re used to. When we look at life as a relationship with God our suffering only pushes us closer to him . . . and that’s a good thing! We see a side of him others do not get to see. And that is the privilege.

      Posted by mikedellosso | April 2, 2012, 1:14 pm
    • Hello 🙂
      Joni Eareckson Tada ‘s books, her early stories on her paraplegia from a young age to her acceptance and how God uses it now really helped me open up to seeing how God shapes us in adversity. She nor anyone can deny her horrible accident as a teen was used totally for Gods glory. According to her she wouldnt change it for the world. (It was rough starting tho’)

      Posted by Tana | April 2, 2012, 5:36 pm
  4. I meant to reply to those comments above as Michael King, not Mike Dellosso. I’m still getting used to this pseudonym thing and get my personalities crossed sometimes. Gotta remember to check who I’m logged in as 🙂

    Posted by michaelkingbooks | April 2, 2012, 1:17 pm
  5. Mike, your blog truly inspires me. Whether we face hardships such as you’ve been through or as you described here, or simple trials of the day, they are meant by God to build strength and character, draw us closer to God, help us to serve others and refine us into the image of Christ. At times, the words you bring to your blog encourage me, and other times they convict my human heart and show me where I need to grow, but in any case, I thank you for putting them out there and serving God in this manner.

    Posted by John Urban | April 2, 2012, 5:51 pm
    • John, I think our unique perspective on suffering is a major element that sets us apart from non-believers. For us, no matter how bad things get, no matter how dark or deep the valley, or how endless the trail may seem, there is always hope. Our mission is to share that hope with others.

      Posted by michaelkingbooks | April 3, 2012, 5:43 am
  6. Mike,
    I am really enjoying this blog, keep up the great work!!

    Posted by Ben Jacobs | April 3, 2012, 8:50 am

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