Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Suffering is one of those things that I find it hard to believe I’ve gone through, because most times I don’t believe I have. I recently finished reading Kisses from Katie, which I honestly cannot recommend enough, and spent a good amount of my time reading that book and sobbing uncontrollably. Compared to the suffering Katie describes in Uganda, compared to the suffering I can read about every day on the news, compared to the suffering I know happens in my city every day – well, compared to that I haven’t really suffered.
But I do know suffering in my own way. I know suffering through terrible thoughts about the way I look. I know suffering through the food I refused to eat and hunger in order to look a certain way. I know suffering through defining myself in relationships. I know suffering through discovering I really don’t know myself at all. I know suffering in the loss of a sweet baby. I know the suffering of losing a church plant that we poured ourselves into and the suffering of losing some of the friendships made there. I know suffering in the insecurity of what the future looks like. And while those sufferings really don’t even compare, it’s the suffering I know.
And more importantly, it’s the suffering that leads me to God. That leads my heart to be broken for the things that break His. That leads me to hunger and thirst for the Lord in every area of my life.
Y’all, I am a broken woman in so many ways. There are deep, dark corners of my heart that I’ve been afraid to let God change, as though there’s comfort in the ugliness you can find there. But I know that through the suffering that I’ve gone through the Lord is taking apart that deep dark heart, shattering the ugly and making it new and beautiful again. It’s what He does, you know.
I can’t pray that I never suffer again because I know and see the work and the glory of God through the times that I’ve hurt the most. The redemption, grace and love are clear and focused, beaming into my heart and changing my life. My physical body, my worldly mind don’t want to suffer and they crave comfort, but my redeemed heart that trusts in God almost needs to see and feel the suffering in order to rejoice in the way God is honored and is merciful through it all.
I wrote those words after church the other day and almost felt like I was betraying myself in some way. I mean really, who WISHES for suffering? Who wants it? No one – I know that I don’t really want to suffer. But the idea of the Lord moving in mighty and powerful ways through that suffering? I’m at a point where I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be stagnant and dormant and unmoved. I don’t want to suffer – but when it happens I can’t be anything but thankful for the way it makes me rely on God. I want to be leaning on Him, deep in constant and intimate relationship with Him, all the days of my life. Scars are inevitable but I am thankful for the grace to take the next step because it means that step will be with the Savior of the world.