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Things I have learnt about suffering
In my life I have been through a number of painful situations. Like many people I have experienced the pain and suffering of long term illness, the loss of loved ones and the pain and suffering of watching those around me going through hard times.
To give you a bit of a background, at the age of 12 I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthtitis. This initially effected my knees, but over time it spread to my feet, ankles, elbows, neck and shoulders. The pain and stiffness has ranged from walking with a slight limp to being completely bedridden for months where I could only walk short distances and then had to return to bed. As you can imagine this has been a very difficult trial and at times has lead to depression and feelings of unworthiness and suicide.
While I hate pain and suffering, I have to admit that these times have actually helped me in my life and I have learnt things and grown personally through these trials. In this article I want to share some of the things I have learnt.
1. Suffering brings people together
We only have to look back to the Beaconsfield mining disaster in Tasmania that happened several years ago to see that suffering brings people together. Once the people of the town found out that a cave in had taken place at the local mine site, the whole town stopped and rallied together to help.
Some people drilled a hole to those trapped, some people prepared meals for the workers, some people did the sums to make sure the rescue would be safe and some just went to the local church and prayed. It didn't matter what the people did as individuals, it all played a part in bringing the rescue about. For that week or so the whole town put there differences aside and worked together as one. Suffering brings people together.
2. Suffering can deepen our relationships
In the first year of our marriage we had a number of trials that actually caused a to grow as a couple. These trials included my wife being diagnosed will chronic depression, I had a serious knee injury, our house was broken in to and we had many possessions stolen, I was in a very challenging job which I really didn't enjoy and our long term pets died. This is just to name a few of our trials!
While the year was very difficult and we experienced a lot of suffering, we look back now and are thankful that these things happened. We feel that we actually pulled together as a couple and this gave us a solid foundation for our marriage. The things that could have brought our marriage to breaking point actually brought us together closer. Now when we go through hard times we can actually draw on that experience to bring us through.
3. Suffering helps us to help others
After we have been through an illness or a hard situation we find that we learn a lot about ourselves and our experience can be invaluable in helping others. Nobody knows how to help someone who has lost a child than someone who has been through it. The same goes for someone who addicted to drugs and alcohol is best helped by a counsellor who has been through the situation themselves.
Recently my wife was at our local children's hospital in Perth. Sitting in the waiting room was a lady who was obviously distressed after hearing some bad news. My wife went and spoke to the lady and she said she just found out that her young daughter was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. My wife was able to share my experience with the lady and said that while my life has been hard, I have been able to live a fairly normal life and work and have a family. These simple words really encouraged the lady and took away some of the fear and worry she was feeling. My pain and suffering was able to help her in her situation.
4. Suffering can lead us to God
Many people actually begin their search for God in the lowest and hardest times of their lives. After suffering crippling Arthritis for about ten years, I found myself sitting on the edge of my bed with an open bottle of pills ready to take them all so I could end the pain. As I sat I looked up and I asked if God was real and if he was would He please help me, because I can't cope with this any more. Straight away I felt a peace and a presence of God in the room. The pain was still there, but I suddenly felt at peace with it and the desire to commit suicide had gone. I just knew things were going to be ok.
To be honest, if I didn't suffer as much as I did with Rheumatoid Arthritis and other problems, I don't think I would have even considered looking in God's direction and then starting one of the greatest journeys of my life. Looking back now I can see that God allowed my condition so I would come to the point where I would cry out to Him. I am so glad he did as this was one of the turning points in my life and changed it for the better.
5. Suffering will not last forever
The Bible says in Revelations 21:4 that "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." This refers to a time when we are in eternity with God. There will be no more wars, no more pain and suffering, no more disease, famine and even death.
I don't know about you, but that sounds very appealing to me! Living with no suffering at all. When I am going through a particularly hard time I try to remember that the current suffering I am going through will not last forever. It might last a day, a week or even the rest of my life, but one day when I am with God in eternity I will not experience pain any more.
How about you?
Are you going through a hard time and suffering at the moment? Have you been through a hard time and wondered if it would ever end? If so I would encourage you to look to God in prayer.
If you would like to begin a personal relationship with Jesus today, please visit my "Finding Salvation" page here
By Dave Quinn
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