There’s a question that I get asked a lot from people of all ages and walks of life. Here’s the question and perhaps you’ve asked it or someone asked you: Is there anything good that can come from my suffering?
As we look at the story of Job and see all the suffering that he went through, I’ve found myself asking this question about my own suffering—or at least I think it’s suffering. In the next couple paragraphs, I’d like to try my best to answer this question.
This is how Webster defines ‘suffering’: the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship. Hmmm. As I think back over my life, I can definitely pinpoint times of suffering. I think about high school football practice. I wanted nothing more than to be the best wide receiver and cornerback that I could be. In order for me to be the best, I needed to practice. God could have made me an athlete from the start but He didn’t. Practices were tough. Crawling up a hill on all fours in full gear, full contact hitting drills, lifting weights with coach yelling in my ear, and practicing in the snow was stressful, painful, and hard. I wanted to quit during practice. But because of those things, I became a stronger and more prepared football player. I remember asking coach at the end of a practice why he made it so hard on us. He said that he saw who we could become. After the season when we no longer had to do crawls and drills, I finally saw the purpose of the pain.
Looking at Job’s story, the suffering that God allowed Job to go through strengthened Job’s commitment to Him, rid Job of pride, and forced Job to depend on Him. At the end of the story, Job was stronger, more prepared, and wiser than before he underwent pain, distress, and hardship. His suffering increased his dependence on God and strengthened his character.
I’m not sure why you’re going through your suffering. If your cancer, injuries from a car accident, son’s premature death, bankruptcy, or infertility causes you to ask God for strength and wisdom, then regardless of why, God uses that to display His work through you. Try to think the purpose of your suffering and not the cause of your suffering. Once God does something great with your suffering, you can look back and see that it was worth it.
God sees who we can become so He uses suffering to make us into that person: “I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering” (Isaiah 48:10 NLT).
I don’t know about you but over my life I’ve grown closest to God when was life was painful, stressful, and hard.
Jeff Geyer Pastor of Spiritual Formation and Family Ministries 703.971.4673 ext. 261