Spiritually and emotionally, if we can’t feel pain, we won’t look to the Savior we so desperately need. All attempts to avoid loneliness, anxiety, and discomfort separate from the God who created us are ultimately temporary cures. The best thing we can do when we hurt is to look up. The enemy of our souls wants us to look down, ignore God’s message, and concentrate only on our own circumstances. God desires for us to look to Him and trust that He is working all things out—not only for our good, but also for His glory.
He created each of us for a specific purpose, and with purpose comes preparation. None of us is born with the strengths and skills we need to fulfill our purpose, which means each of our paths includes mistakes and missteps. It takes both grit and grace to press on when everything within you wants to quit. Grit to keep going and grace to forgive yourself when you need to try again.
During difficult seasons, it helps to change our question from “why?” to “what?” Our perspective changes when instead of lamenting, “Why is this happening to me?”, we choose to look to God and ask, “What do you want me to learn?” God desires for us to be useful tools in His hands, which requires some chiseling to refine and strengthen us for His purpose.
I’ve had to remind myself many times during difficult seasons that the only way out is through. There are no shortcuts or detours on the road to understanding. Any attempt to escape the pain through alternative methods doesn’t solve the problem—it actually adds more problems. I've learned the longest distance between two points is my shortcuts!
When we keep our eyes focused on Jesus, He will reward us with perfect peace as we trust in Him. When I reflect on the hardest times in my life, I realize that is when I felt the closest to Jesus. I wouldn’t ask to go through those trying times again, but I wouldn’t change them either. Now that I am older and wiser, I know that I was being trained to trust Him. The trials were intended to increase my perseverance, strengthen my character, and renew my hope in Him.
In the Bible, the apostle Paul says it best in Philippians 3:10: “… I long to know Christ, the power of His resurrection and the fellowship in his sufferings.” Paul understood that there is a special closeness to the Lord that can only be found in trying times, uncomfortable situations, and pain.
Paul didn’t seek out ways to suffer, but the reality of this broken world gave him many opportunities to depend on Jesus for strength. I believe that suffering just for suffering’s sake is pointless but Paul knew that if God called him to suffer, He would use it for good. Power is perfected in weakness because we must depend on God. Whenever we are weak, He is strong. His grace is more than enough to guide us through our trial and guarantee our victory.