The Peculiar Joy in Suffering

I have three clear memories of The Accident. One, was the never-ending-slow-motion-but-shockingly-unexpected impact. The sound of metal on metal, of my screaming, feeling the car rock back and forth and shrinking around me. My second memory was smiling at the trauma teddies looking down on me from the ambulance roof.

Finally, I remember the phone call. I contacted one of my school friends who I knew would pray unwaveringly and join together a team of support when I was left totally immobilised (side note: today I am married to that man. Perhaps that’s why it’s so memorable!) To the point, The Accident was five years ago. It, along with previous traumas left me suffering with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and chronic back pain.

Last night, I attended a healing service in the hopes of release from these conditions.

The results? Honestly, I woke up this morning feeling even more tired, and a little more sceptical. I’m not going to analyse the legitimacy of the service though. And I completely believe God loves to give healing. But, the experience was a welcome reminder of the peculiar joy in suffering. That is where my mind wanders today.

My mentor once said God allows some people to remain unhealed because they are ordained to be the prayer warriors. Those who remain excluded from traditional work and leisure have time to sit with God and pour out intercession for their world.

This continues to become more apparent to me each year. It truly is a gift to have unlimited time and space to be with Him. Of course, I often neglect this treasure. I take inspiration from my faux older sister though. I imagine without her endless prayers, my life, and many others, would not look as beautiful as they are. Her illness has brought blessing.

What are the other beauties of suffering?

  1. There is beauty in faith 

2 Corinthians 8-10 says:

‘Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness’. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, I will delight in weakness…For when I am weak, then I am strong’. 

This has been the catch-cry of The Grace Spot. My personal  vulnerability has showcased the power of God to heal and set women free. When I am incapable, yet great things happen, it is clearly God’s work.

There is no clearer way to use your life to point to God’s glory than to be weak.

My fatigue, anxiety, pain and story make it utterly clear that I have no power. My God has held me up, he has been my strength.

To suffer is to fully rely on God. It is humility that allows you to stand in awe as Yahweh parts the seas and moves powerfully in your life.

2. Heroes of the faith suffered, too. 

Joseph suffered. He was a young man sold into slavery by his brothers. This story is recorded in the book of Genesis. He endured prison, false accusation, hunger and exclusion. He knew pain. Through an extraordinary series of events, orchestrated by God, however, Genesis 50 sees him claim ‘you (his tormentors) intended to harm me, but God intended it for good’.

Suffering may last a life time. It may not. There is a great unknowness to pain. I am encouraged by Joseph’s journey to remain optimistic that blessing can be a fruit of suffering…even years later.  Perhaps there is a purpose to the pain. Perhaps, like Joseph my suffering will result in the salvation of others. Certainly, the pain behind TGS has facilitated deep healing for many women. My physical ailments have connected me with others in pain, and these friendships are deep places of ministry and sanctification.

3. It’s in God’s hands

Sometimes suffering doesn’t seem to have a distinct purpose, but it is still under the sovereignty of God. If you want a dose of perspective, just read through the forty two depressing chapters of Job!

This writing teaches us two things: Satan still has power to harm, and since God is almighty, who are we to question what He allows? Moreso, as people who’s greatest injury has been healed (the sin which separates us from God) why should the ease of our mortal suffering be paramount?

Satan is called the ‘Prince of this Earth’ (2 Corinthians 4:4) Until judgement day, he retains an amount of authority. Jesus is greater, and His people are protected by His blood. However, The Enemy is still Hell-bent on turning humans away from hope. He wants to use suffering to breed resentment, anger, confusion and pride in our hearts against God. He uses suffering to close our eyes to the bigger picture. That is, that Jesus came as a man to suffer and die in our place, so that we may no longer be separated from God. We may experience pain on Earth but there is a greater future ahead!

While these truths stand firm, I will not diminish the pain of suffering.

I hate waking up feeling as if I’ve already worked a full day’s work. I feel deep stress when it comes to my mental state and I do wish I could drive long distance without needing a massage afterwards. I am sick to my stomach watching The News and listening to women’s stories of abuse. I am not equipped to grasp or explain the suffering throughout the universe, but as I reflect on my own experience of CFS, PTSD and pain, God has reminded me of the peculiar joy of suffering in my life.

Join me as I eagerly await the restoration of all things. There will be no more pain or tears. Let’s run to our Father, thank him for curing our deepest disease of sin, and hide under His wing as we struggle, until the day Jesus returns and makes all things new.

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