I am not a fan of suffering, of struggling, of enduring hardships. Yet right there in the serenity prayer that we read it clearly states that hardships are a pathway to peace. Well surely there must be another pathway, right? There’s got to be more than one way to peace rather than to follow the yellow brick road. It says that hardships are A pathway, not THE pathway… there is no possible way that a loving God would allow me to suffer, to put me through these difficult trials and situations. I thought if I loved him that I would be free from evil? I mean I’ve heard before that God won’t give me more than I can handle, and God knows that I can’t handle much so surely he knows not to give me very much, just the easy stuff. God can give it to one of those stronger warriors I keep hearing about. That’s not me.
Yeah. We all know it doesn’t quite work like that. But I have had this conversation before. I have asked God these questions, gave God these stipulations, and questioned why he would allow me to go through so much that I could not possibly bear anymore. In fact, I have felt like that for most of this year. I haven’t felt very strong. I felt as if things have been piling up on top of one another, suffocating me in my struggling, overloading my abilities to effectively cope with life. I have been angry with God, questioning why I have to endure such hardship, such pain, to fight an ongoing mental health battle at times. Well, God has an answer, and of course it wasn’t the answer that I was hoping for, but it’s the truth.
God allows us to suffer and to struggle because it is a gift.
God allows us to go through the darkness, to struggle in the midst of our chaos and our unexpected situations because there is a greater purpose in store. Nate shared this quote with me, and I found it quite fitting. “God won’t keep anything from you that will make you more like Christ.” In the Bible, Christ suffered. There mere fact that we are following Christ on a spiritual journey does not exempt us from the darkness. Instead, we are taught how to use the darkness. When we say yes to God and give him our will, we are asking him to change us to be more like Christ. As humans, we can be kind of stubborn. Therefore, God often utilizes pain and suffering to change us. Pain changes people.
Suffering allows us to learn how to cope, to be resilient, it highlights our strengths, it allows us to be able to appreciate the blessings that God gives us and has in store for us. Our suffering allows us to be closer to Christ. God uses suffering to strengthen our faith. God uses the darkness of suffering to allow his light to shine brighter, the light that is within all of us who have Christ within us.
We all suffer. However, we have a choice as to how we will the let pain of suffering change us, either to make us bitter, or make us better.
Thank you God for your gift.
April Brantley, CR Mental Health Team X-factor