In my last two posts, I've covered four out of five reasons for difficult times in our lives.
Since I've had so much to say about each reason, what was meant to be one article turned into a three-part series. Well, I hope you haven't become annoyed with my wordiness. The last reason for adversity is...
5. Suffering Gives Us a Story to Tell
Now, when I say, “suffering gives us a story to tell,” I don't mean the kind of story where the victim of life's circumstances complains to drum up sympathy from others. What I mean is that our story may someday help others.
The difference is in our motives: when we complain, chances are, we're doing it for ourselves. We may want to look like the victim, point fingers, and drum up sympathy from others. On the other hand, when we share our story in a beneficial way, we do so for the good of others, not out of selfish ambition. It helps us to empathize with them so they can feel understood and validated.
"I stopped venting and started praying, because I don't need sympathy - I need strength." - Unknown
With that in mind, every hardship we go through is an opportunity to experience God's greatness in a new way. While the world would complain and moan at the slightest hint of suffering, God's Redeemed stand strong. We thrive. We praise through the storm. We worship amidst the thrashing waves coaxing us to give up hope.
The saint's joy during trials drives the lost into utter confusion. How can they still praise jubilantly through their suffering? What is so different about them?! What do they have that I don't? When we display this perplexing contentment, we show that because this joy doesn't come from the world, it can't be tainted by the world, either.
Hardship also gives us compassion for those who are going through the same thing. Suffering gives us wisdom and a tender heart. Later, when we help the hurting, we can respond with, "I can't imagine what you're going through, but I went through a similar situation..." and share what we've learned.
Therefore, hard times take "us" out of the way, allowing Christ's glory to shine like a beacon to the dark world around us.
I think it's a good idea to summarize the five main reasons for hard times in our lives:
1. Hard times may be an answer to prayer
2. Difficulties humble us
3. Hardship produces gratefulness
4. Suffering beckons us to the cross
5. Suffering gives us a story to tell
Whatever you are going through, God knows. Not only does He know, but He cares. He cares for you so much, that He's willing to use hardships to draw you closer to Him. May we heed the words of James 1:2-4, considering it "pure joy" to go through trials, because we know that God has a great purpose for us being here.
I hope that you've been encouraged by this series. It's comforting to know that our suffering is never wasted and that our pain serves a purpose!
Soli Deo Gloria!