By June Elliott
The problem of suffering is one that is strange to us all, but when we can think of it as a school of learning, it does help. What better way is there to learn to be more patient, humble, and to have a deeper faith in our God?
When we are down we learn to lean on God and to thank Him more when things are going good for us. After being through one of these times, we can appreciate our good health even more. So, if we have never suffered, then how can we know the real joy of being well and whole? Also, through our suffering we can help one another better to wipe away one another’s tears, or listen to them with a heart that knows and understands.
Job suffered so much, and he felt much like us I am sure; but he kept his faith and submitted himself to his God as we must do. So as we suffer, the time seems so long, but really it is short compared to what we will have with our God if we remain faithful through it all.
I have suffered little compared to many, but it has helped me in so many ways to understand better someone else who is suffering. But most of all, it has helped me to trust God more and more, and to realize I needed that. It is not easy to suffer sometimes, and as we try to put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:13-18), we may feel sometimes it is wearing a bit thin. Through these times of suffering and trial, however, it seems to renew and grow stronger once more. Thus our suffering is not in vain. I once knew a lady who was tied to her bed for seven or eight years. She could not even get up to get a drink of water. I went to see her many times, and she was surely an inspiration to me, as she would feel sorry for me because of some small pain I might be suffering. I would think to myself, now here is a lady that with every movement of her small, frail body brings about great pain; and yet she tries to cheer another. I would ask her about this, and she would say, “Honey, I have been in this bed a long time, so I want to help someone else.” I would go away many times feeling ashamed and more humble and thankful than before.
I know that I will never forget this lady and the lesson that I learned from her, as she is now gone on to her reward. Yes, I know these times are hard, but I do believe that all things work together for our good, as Rom. 8:28 says, if we try hard to see the good that comes from our suffering!
I think back to the time I sought peace, and by the time I was 25 years old I faced six operations, been through many other things I will not go into, and I was most miserable because I had not learned yet to really trust in God and His mercy. I began to search and look deeper and deeper, and pray harder by submitting myself to God and asking for courage and strength to face whatever might lie ahead for me. I found this blessed peace that only those sleepless nights can sometimes bring about. So I quit complaining so much, and realized I could not change a lot of things. But through prayer and faith, I could even smile through the most of them.
Sickness is really a ‘blessing in so many ways, because through it we really meditate on spiritual things, find peace, help others, learn to be patient, and to humble ourselves so we can have these wonderful blessings. If we truly trust in God and His mercy to see us through, as Rom. 8:35-39 tells us, nothing can separate us from the love of God. And they will not, if we will not give in and have too much self pity. So as we begin to question, “Why is God doing this to me?”, we need to remember He does not do it, but allows it to go on sometimes to help in so many ways because He loves us and will not let us suffer more than we can stand.
Oh yes, we must put on our armor to help us through these times (Eph. 6:13-18), and try hard even though it will be battle worn and frail at times. Yet I know we all will not be able to say as the apostle Paul said in 2 Tim. 4:6-8, “I am ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” What a wonderful thought here! So, as Christians, we will suffer and sometimes it seems even more so; but we have blessings that are more precious than gold.
I hope the things I have said will help another to bear those days that will be filled with pain and sleepless nights. Turn to the Lord, and let Him comfort you. I would like to close with a poem I wrote when I was in pain:
Look To The Lord
Sometimes life on this earth is hard to bear,
All the problems, strife, and pain seem so unfair!
Oh, but there’s one who’ll walk with you all the way,
Who’ll give you courage, strength, and be your stay!
So as you may cry aloud or softly weep,
And your pathway seems ever so steep,
Look to the Lord and promises He gave,
For your soul He will surely save.
This is far worth more than any gold,
He will give you blessings that are lovely to behold.
Truth Magazine XXIV: 39, p. 626
October 2, 1980