Suffering Well

“One of the most awesome tools in God’s hand is a man, woman, or child who has suffered well.” A note in my bible next to Romans 5:3.

My friend has suffered the effects of mono for over a year now, which has left her exhausted. It’s also wrecked her immune system, so she is easily knocked down again. Ugh. I hate to see her suffer.

“…tribulation produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope,” says Romans 5:3. I’m not loving the implications here. I’d rather get to hope by not suffering. Yet, I can’t get around that note I’d written from some pastor (don’t remember who) about suffering well. I can’t get around the evidence of joy and peace that comes by suffering well.

Because the other option is to suffer poorly. To resist and resent will not produce that hope of Romans 5:3. We have a choice in how we suffer.

I have suffered in my life. Not in big martyrdom ways, but disappointment. Hurt. Pain where you feel your heart is being ripped out. And in those times, God has ripened me–seasoned me like a great cast-iron skillet. I witness people who have been through it, and there’s a sweetness to them, and kindness not present when they were still king-of-the-world. That’s what we read a few verses down in Romans 5:5: “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been shed abroad in our heart.”

I am not interested in those who have held their lives together all these years, those who would claim they haven’t veered off the path or taken a false step. That is disingenuous to me. And quite frankly, I don’t notice the love of God shed abroad in their hearts.

But someone who has suffered, come through tempered, sweetened, more genuine… that’s the person I want to sit down with over a cup of tea. I want to listen to their story.

 

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