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?