Comfort in Suffering
Do you know someone who is suffering? Most of us can only say “yes” to that question. It may even be YOU who is suffering. So many people in my life come to mind, people who have lost jobs or had their hours cut, people who are struggling to balance working from home and helping their kids learn online, and more.
Yet struggles that seemed insurmountable before the pandemic continue, including my friend who is battling cancer with such tenacity and bravery. The cancer and the treatments are causing him immense physical pain.
In the midst of crying out to God to help him through the suffering, my friend found the strength to text me. He wrote, “There is tremendous beauty in suffering. Because with it comes deeper understanding of ones’ self, closer relationship with God and amazing transformation. Too many gifts to name them all.”
I read those words and burst into tears. My friend’s attitude in the midst of his physical suffering, emotional pain, and an unsure future is nothing short of supernatural.
Brennan Manning said, “The dominant characteristic of an authentic spiritual life is the gratitude that flows from trust – not only for all the gifts I receive from God, but gratitude for all the suffering. Because in that purifying experience, suffering has often been the shortest path to intimacy with God.”
We will never know this side of heaven why we and the people in our lives suffer. But I take great comfort in knowing that God is big enough to handle our questions, or cries of “why God?!” and we are not alone in our pain. (Joshua 1:9) Jesus promises to never leave us. (Deuteronomy 31:6) He loves us so much, He bottles our tears. (Psalm 56:8)