Updated: Jan 3, 2021
by Pete Garcia
Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.-CS Lewis
We see it every day; suffering is common amongst every country and every people. Suffering varies from people and place; to some it’s internal, and they struggle daily or even hourly for sanity or clarity. To some it is external, and it is an environment placed upon them by either too much or too little of something. None of us choose to be born who we are…we are born and then learn as we grow up what hand God has dealt us.
I grew up on the bottom side of the middle class. We weren’t stuck eating mayonnaise and cracker sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner…but we definitely didn’t have the best of everything either. Growing up I felt a tinge of envy at those who had more than I did, because I believed on some level, that happiness was found in things. I didn’t appreciate the things I did have and therefore felt cheated somehow. It wasn’t until I went on a church youth trip to a border town in Mexico did I truly appreciate everything I had.
We went to the Matamoros city dump, a sprawling 20 acres of trash, filth, and sewage. To my surprise, people lived there. One lady, we met lived literally in a house comprised of various forms of cardboard. The running water was the open sewer stream next to her hut. The worst part was, she had young children living with her. I don’t know if she is still alive or what became of her kids, but that was one of those definable moments in my life where I became a little more appreciative of all the blessings God has given me.
I don’t pretend to know all why God allows certain things in the lives of believers’, but I know that hardships, whatever flavor they come in, produce resolve in the believer. A certain hardness that doesn’t make us inflexible, but makes us unbreakable. I don’t remember where I heard the analogy, but I think it fits along the same lines of thought:
The same sun which hardens the clay melts the wax.
The sun doesn’t change, it’s the materials that it lights upon who react in different ways. Do we take our problems and lather ourselves with misery and pity? Or do we find strength in our situations, whether internal or external and hand them over to God? I know, I know…easy to say, and hard to do. Doing it, and being consistent in doing it, is a moment by moment slow-moving picture reel. It’s taking each problem, circumstance, event, and giving it to the Father, and then moving on and letting go.
Peter, moved by the Holy Spirit, shows us how we are to live as Christians
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”. 2 Peter 1:5-8
Now I don’t think that my woes of a lower-middle-class upbringing compare to something like cancer, or abuse, but we all at some point or another lie awake at night praying “Why me God?" Our trials are not unknown to God, nor were they before He created the world. On some level, I have begun to understand, that we are chosen for our trials. If God thought we could never rise above them than I don’t think we would have received it. Paul chronicles his troubles:
“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.” 2 Corinthians 11:24-26
So if our troubles, sufferings, calamities, persecutions, afflictions, or whatever befalls us in this life, seem to overwhelm us, let us take solace in a verse that places our problems in some sort of perspective, from the same guy who penned the previous verse.
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:17
Rejoice in the Lord. We may not know what God has in store for us, but He knows, and as we move through this life, let’s take account of the things God has blessed you with.
Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith but they are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the passion of Christ. – CS Lewis