When the walls of life crumble, as they so often do, I have yelled and screamed at the violent wind and fire storms, so exhausted by my indignant anger that I miss the quiet whisper almost entirely.
In August my family and I started a trek through what I call our “season of plagues” . After finding out about a surprise pregnancy (not part of the plagues btw) I was immediately plunged into 4 months of debilitating morning sickness. I could count on one hand the amount of times I left my house. One night I sat at the table around a meal I could barely look at, my husband, who was working full-time and keeping us all afloat, kissed the top of my head and said, “I miss you.” “I miss me too,” I thought. I was a shell of myself and felt isolated and separate from my life.
Around Thanksgiving the clouds began to part and I started to feel like myself again. My husband though, did not. What started as a toothache quickly turned into dangerously high blood pressure, the flu and then pneumonia. He was out of work for nearly 3 weeks and locked away in our guest room, now a shell of himself, while I tried to piece together our life that I had been absent from for so long.
We left for the holiday and as soon as we returned I became sick and soon broke out into hives from the bottoms of my feet to the top my head. My body swelled and itched despite high doses of steroids and Benadryl. The day I woke with hives my husband had to return to work (it had been almost a month). He walked out the door and immediately my youngest daughter started vomiting and my oldest showed me a grotesque infection festering under one of her fingernails. A week later I drove our limping family to Oklahoma for Christmas day, my husband pale and shivering in the passenger seat after a night of violent stomach illness (which I came down with hours after we arrived).
Today my oldest daughter is lying in bed with a stomach bug, my youngest is on Benadryl for an allergic reaction from ant bites, and I…I am walking my floors, Lysol in one hand, holy water in the other. I joke with my friends that I feel like I am in a low-budget Job remake. We haven’t lost any lives or cattle, but it sure does feel like a season of spiritual warfare rather than a rough patch of illness.
Yet, something in me has changed. If this had been my lot in life even a year ago I would have collapsed in entitled anger and railed at God for not lifting this burden from those He loved. I would have questioned His integrity and His goodness, and ignored His gentle reasoning. I would have selfishly seen my suffering as far more painful than those losing lives and homes overseas, and wallowed in my privilege and self-pity.
Not anymore. After searching out what it means for God to be good in the face of suffering, I’ve learned to trust his character in a way I never have. Last Sunday in church the guest speaker, Christian Rose, spoke on suffering. He said that suffering is the confirming mark of those in the family of God. He also said that we should not be surprised when God does amazing things despite suffering, but rather, that He does purposeful and miraculous things BECAUSE of suffering. We should view our suffering as a distinguished seal of belonging. We should rejoice in our suffering because it is one of those most powerful tools we have to reach a world in darkness. And as I will discuss in a coming post, it is the location God calls us to when He asks us to meet with Him.
I have found these last few months that God’s loving, good intentions toward me are not only met, but also steadfast in how he relays them. He is just as good and loving in my hardship as He was in my times of rest and rejoicing.
Because I know this now, I find that when I am faced with another trial, my heart is drawn into Him rather than away from Him. My knee-jerk response is no longer unrighteous indignation, but worshipful submission. I trust His heart toward me to always be for my good, and I am working on letting go of what I expect that should look like.
So while I continue in this path, come hell or hives, I will rest in the character of Jesus, knowing full well that whatever comes, He is with me. He does not allow suffering go to waste, so I will bring all my pity to Him, knowing full-well He loves me deeply and has a gone before mapping perfection out in scars.
3 thoughts on “Trustworthy Intentions: Seeing Suffering Through the Lens of God’s Character”
Thank you for your message and perspective. I too heard the message by Mr..Rose and and have been rolling it over in my heart and mind. God’s love is always with me. Not just on the good days but always, forever in all days. I am running the same race as Paul and all my faith warriors to be a praise to God’s glory.