Surviving Our Seasons of Suffering - Finding Hope in the Pain
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you …” (Jeremiah 29:11‒14).
I really enjoy the devotional writers at Proverbs 31, but my favorite is probably Lysa TerKeurst. When it comes to suffering, hardship, and living a life you never expected and didn’t ask for, she really gets it. She writes about the hard truths in life, but also eloquently shares the hope we have in Jesus as we walk through “the Valley of the Shadow of Death.”
She recently wrote a devotional called “Surviving Our Seasons of Suffering” and talks about the whole idea of longsuffering, sharing honestly thoughts that echo mine exactly - "Longsuffering isn’t a word I want to be part of my story. It means having or showing patience despite troubles. And I don’t particularly want troubles to begin with … let alone for any extended period of time."
I remember when my journey through chronic pain began in earnest in late summer 2011, some friends of my wife came over to visit and offer the ministry of fellowship. While sharing about my struggles, one of my wife’s friends shared the story of someone they knew who’d experienced 14 months of pain and suffering before he found relief and healing. I remembered at the time thinking to myself, “14 months?!? I’ve only been going through this 14 days and I feel like I’m going to lose my mind!!! I could NEVER last 14 months like this!”
Here I am, almost 8 years later, not just surviving my “season of suffering” but finding life in the midst of pain. I give the credit to God - suffering has been a tool to help get my eyes off myself and onto others - and ultimately Him. Lysa puts it this way:
“When we seek God, we see God. We don’t see His physical form, but we see Him at work and can start to see more of what He sees. Trust grows. If our hearts are willing to trust Him, He will entrust to us more of His perspective.”
I won’t for a moment pretend the path of suffering is easy. The pain is real. The heartache and disappointment is real. The doubts and questions and fears are real - but so is our Savior. His promises are bigger than our pain, his plans better, his love stronger. Wholeheartedly seek him. Cry out to him. Follow him, and you’ll start to gain his perspective and the hope that comes with it.