“Expect suffering every day”   – so says Tullian Tchividjian in his book Glorious Ruin – How Suffering Makes You Free.

Just that concept, that suffering is part of daily life, is liberating.   I have spent too much energy trying to ward off suffering, rather than relaxing in the knowledge that Jesus is with me in my daily trials.

Maybe you share some of these false ideas that I have entertained:

  • if my suffering isn’t as bad as starving children, persecuted Christians, languishing prisoners, tsunami-victims, cancer patients, then it doesn’t count
  • if I pray effectively enough, I can block or mitigate the suffering in the lives of those whom I love
  • suffering is to be avoided
  • if I’m suffering, then God is either absent, doesn’t care, can’t do anything or  just is not good

As I have written before, I wouldn’t have chosen or planned ANY of the suffering in my life, but I do see the blessings that have come to me from

  • eating disorders
  • anxiety issues
  • marriage problems
  • money crises
  • perplexing parenting decisions and situations
  • fears of POOR parenting
  • inadequacies I have seen and still see in myself
  • consequences of bad decisions
  • relational pain that I have caused friends and family members because of my sin
  • spiritual ups & downs
  • being fired once
  • receiving a poor performance review at a former school
  • pets and parents who have aged and died
  • lost dreams

And so now, in the present moment, as I currently suffer with

  • a dying cat
  • a rough start in a new school
  • a tighter budget
  • doubts about my abilities in all my roles with others

…….I remind myself that just as there were past blessings that flourished in the soil of suffering,  God has good (what the Hebrews call TOV) planned for me that will be revealed in the current pain.  Therefore,  I strengthen myself in the Lord with His promises of present help and future grace.  Here are just 4 of many, many great proclamations from our loving and all-wise Father:

  • Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10) 
  • No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11b) 
  • Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1: 2-4)
  • Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of _______(whatever the circumstance) _______ for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deut 31:6)

What promises of God are YOU clinging to?