Ok…this concept from Matt Chandler blew my mind. The first time I read it I thought “nice quote.” Then, after reading it through a couple of times and allowing it to penetrate through the cliche part of my brain to something deeper I began to really get on board with what Matt Chandler is saying. Let’s call this the head to heart transition. Take a few moments and reread these words today. Allow their meaning to seep into your soul.
“Comfort is the god of our generation, so suffering is seen as a thing to be solved, and not a providence from God.” Matt Chandler
Suffering as a providence from God, a blessing maybe? Let me clarify and say that I don’t believe suffering is the blessing. The bad, the mess, the hurt is not the blessing. I will not ask you to swallow the “suffering is a blessing” pill.
But before we get to where the blessing can be found answer this question, where do you turn when things begin spiraling out of control?
When we are hurting, searching for an escape it is so easy to medicate, to mask, or to smother our suffering. Or at least to try anyway…with a drink, a pill, food, shopping. Understand that it doesn’t have to necessarily be the “taboo” things that are destructive. When we reach for “stuff” first, we will constantly find ourselves reaching, going back to the well for more, trying to fill the hole, trying to escape our suffering. This is shaky ground and I will just say this. Pretending “it” doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away. The only place to find healing is digging all the way to the root and then laying it down at the foot of the cross. It WILL hurt, and it is most likely NOT going to change over night but everything that happens in this life happens for a reason. Of that I am confident and unwavering.
Let me share with you what I have learned first hand…
When we are hurting, we want someone to sit down next to us, take our hand, and tell us it’s going to be okay, even if he or she doesn’t really believe it. We want to pretend, at least for a little while, that everything is all right. That in that very moment in time, everything is fine, and all that has happened or is yet to happen will just go away—the hurt, the shame, the fear, the consequences. In the absence of being able to turn the clock back, in the absence of being able to change the course our life has taken, we want comfort. We want to be loved and assured. And many times, the last thing we want to hear is that our pain has a purpose. We want to wallow in our pain; we want to have a pity party for ourselves. We want to scream at God that He has made a mistake and demand that He fix it. God doesn’t make mistakes, and search as we may for an escape route, the nearest exit as it were, from our current situation, it is in these situations that we really begin to understand what God is really like. I have been there, desperately searching for the emergency exit, but though we may not want to accept it, what we are going through has a purpose—God’s Word tells us exactly that. If you are there today, I pray as I write this that God’s words will penetrate your heart and you will be able to see God through the haze of your pain…I have come to realize that sometimes bad things are going to happen. Sometimes terrible, unthinkable, unimaginable things are going to happen, but it is God’s will. He has not turned His back on me, and I can use these things to make me bitter or I can use them to make me better. I love what Charles Spurgeon says; maybe you too can identify with his words. “I bear my willing witness that I owe more to the fire, and the hammer, and the file, than to anything else in my Lord’s workshop. I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything except through the rod. When my schoolroom is darkened, I see most.” (An excerpt from Run and Be Still. )
When we are suffering what is the first thing we look for? Relief, an escape, a way to stop or avoid the pain. That is our human nature. We need to take a fresh look at Jesus in times of suffering, to understand better the promises He makes us when we find ourselves in the valley. Let me encourage you that in our suffering, God wants to be our comfort. Herein lies a major blessing if we can shift our thinking to see it as such. If you aren’t there yet please don’t give up. Just stick with me and keep an open mind. Know that on the bad days, God has not left you. He has not forsaken you.
I encourage you to look again at Jesus with the words from Laura Story’s song, Blessings.
What if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the achings of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise