Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m a bit of a wimp. I don’t like pain or suffering. And I can spend a lot of time trying to prevent it. Since I embrace the challenge of researching remedies and solutions to health challenges, I am continually exposed to all the junk and toxins our environment is bombarded with. In addition to that, our family has personally witnessed the horrible effects and disease processes caused by these toxins.
I’ve personally seen too many suffering individuals ravaged by cancer and other sicknesses. Open tumors oozing intense pain into every cell of their body. Bald toddlers with dark circles under their sunken little eyes, crying as they faced another painful medical procedure. Suffering young people looking like “death warmed over” rather than being in their prime of life.
I carry heart-breaking memories of my own children. Hearing their infant cries grow feeble after seemingly endless diggings with needles before finally accessing a tiny vein in their forehead. My eight-month-old being too sick to show emotions or react to pain. His little body swollen to twice the size he had been only two days prior. My five-year-old daughter suppressing the urge to vomit as she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror; her scarred face and body unrecognizable because of the extent of her horribly painful skin condition.
My young son curled up into a fetal position as the doctor inserted yet another long needle into his spinal column. My fourteen-year-old son crying as he realized he was too weak to even carry out a bag of garbage, his first transplanted heart no longer able to sustain his life. My young teenage daughter with intense pain on her face as she watched the body of her brother, her best friend, being placed in the cold earth, not understanding why God would betray our family in this way.
My other daughter as she continues to struggle with the reality of living with constant, health challenges. In many ways, she feels stuck since her very heart beat is dependent on this medicine that causes her life-altering symptoms.
Nothing breaks the heart more than seeing your child suffer. I’m sure if you’re a parent, you understand. We long to protect our children from any form of suffering; physical, emotional, mental or spiritual.
Yet, our family continues to cling to hope. And we have joy. We’ve found purpose in our pain.
In many ways, I’ve come to realize I will always live with some level of brokenness. In this life, I will always live with pain and suffering. So will you. But the question is…How do we find hope within our suffering?
How do you begin to find hope after you’ve lost a loved one? When your world begins to fall apart. Your adult child goes astray, your spouse betrays. How do you find any thread of hope?
Below I have listed some of the concepts that have been key to myself personally in claiming hope, but I know it is a process, and I will only scratch the surface in the paragraphs below. In fact, because of our life journey, my husband and I are in the process of writing a book, From Pain to Purpose, that will speak in depth about this question of finding hope and purpose during immense pain and loss. I don’t expect that after reading one blog, you will magically go about your life full of new hope and purpose. It doesn’t work like that. But I trust some of the things I have learned will be an encouragement to you in your journey of finding hope.
We can find purpose when we realize others will see a living example of true faith in the midst of our suffering. Let me be clear, I don’t believe God causes one person’s suffering to simply benefit others. But I do believe He redeems everything we allow Him to redeem. He blesses and encourages others through our faithfulness, and will open doors of opportunity for you to comfort others in the ways you have been comforted.
Because of our suffering Savior, all our sufferings have an eternal purpose. We partner with Jesus in our sufferings when we focus on the purpose rather than the pain, and when we respond correctly to a loss here, we are gaining something far greater than we can imagine in eternity. Every millisecond of time that we endure something difficult, we are building treasure in heaven. If we endure while clinging to faith.
When we suffer, we have the opportunity to put less confidence in things of this world. Even if we lose everything this world can offer, we don’t need to lose our purpose, joy and peace. We need to get to the place of realizing that we could give up everything for Jesus. “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33)
Suffering identifies us with the sufferings of Jesus. We will never suffer half as much as Jesus suffered for us. And He did it willingly. Are we prepared to associate just a bit with His sufferings? “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;” (1 Pet. 4:1)
Suffering allows us to grow above our circumstances and emotions. We will never be able to truly grasp the meaning of joy and praise without suffering. God’s word tells us to give thanks in all things. This means while we are suffering, we should be focusing on our blessings. This means thanking Him for the bed you slept in, the green grass outside, the fingers on your hands, etc. When you embrace giving thanks while suffering, you will begin to experience joy and sorrow at the same time.
The path of suffering leads us deeply into the heart of God. God has special revelations of His glory for His suffering children. Our eyes are drawn to God like never before, and we experience insight and a depth of relationship with Him that most never experience.
When things are stripped away and Jesus becomes the very core of our life, we realize He is truly all we need. Yes, we need other relationships, but if we lost everything but Jesus, we could still experience joy and peace.
Do you want to know Jesus? Do you want to experience a greater intimacy with your Father? After months of personal suffering, Job declares to God, “I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees thee.” (Job 42:5) Job was a godly man, but after intense suffering, He knew God more intimately. How committed are you to know your Savior?
In order to gain our greatest treasure in life, we need to be willing to suffer. Suffering will happen. But it is one of your greatest opportunity to gain what can only be gained through suffering. “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” (Phil. 3:10)
The apostle Paul after years of intense suffering declares, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith– that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:8-11).
There is a greater anointing, power and blessing available to those who face suffering. But it is solely contingent on our choices. We can indeed rejoice in the midst of our suffering, even though we will still feel the excruciating pain and loss.
As we are covered by a cloak of suffering, let’s hang on to the golden thread of hope, knowing that it will lead us directly into the embrace of King Jesus.
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)