It caught me by surprise. We seemed perfect for each other – the chemistry, the attraction. We both loved music and were good at it. I even prayed about her. And got a sign in answer to that prayer. A loving relationship developed. Next I told her I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. The proposal was complete with rose petals and live music. She said yes with a tear in her eye.
Then the relationship started to go backward.
Doubt settled in her mind. We postponed the wedding date six months to see if it would help. It didn’t. Six months later we broke up instead.
At first I felt denial. She’ll come back, I thought. She never initiated contact again. I felt numb, almost indifferent. I even considered giving up my faith for a moment. But then a thought entered my mind, Just hold on.
So I did that.
I held on to God. I cried out to him in my pain.
I bring this up because our calling can come in the midst of suffering. In fact, suffering brings unique benefits that you would not otherwise have if life were just smooth sailing.
Here are 3 benefits to suffering I learned from my experience
- Suffering tunes you into the voice of God like never before. It focused my attention on the only thing that could transcend the suffering: God. It drove me to my knees so I could hear a comforting word from him. CS Lewis writes, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
- Suffering creates space for something new. I was driving to Loma Linda from LA. I had a plan to give her a compelling argument as to why we should get back together. During the drive I decided to listen to a sermon. The preacher quoted from the book of Isaiah, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
I aborted the plan. Suffering had caused me to pay attention to God’s voice. Now I cried realizing I needed to let it go.
But I held on to the promise that something new was happening. Somebody once said that when you cry enough it waters the ground beneath you so something new can grow. Going through the suffering allowed me to step into something new.
- Suffering makes you a better person. I have found that suffering leaves me with a choice: I can be bitter or I can be better. Allowing myself to be bitter leads to anger, resentment and being stuck in the past. Choosing to be better allows me to live with more grace and opens up the future to endless possibilities.
Suffering sucks. I wouldn’t wish it on my worse enemy.
Yet I cannot deny how God has used it as a tool to shape me, form me and point out the calling of my life.