At points in my life, I’ve endured the kind of suffering that shakes the faith in which I have professed for most of my adult life.
Deep suffering like this can be so great that it nearly shatters your heart. It dominates your every thought, invades your dreams, and wakes you up at night. Suffering attempts to steal your faith and works vigorously to erode your resolve.
I imagine that you have walked this road. And if you haven’t, you probably know someone who is walking it right now.
That road can be disorienting and painful to accept. I know, because I’ve had to endure it, and I’ve watched so many others endure it as well – even people who love God deeply and have walked with Him faithfully.
When you suffer as a Christian, you know you’re on your way to heaven, but it feels like you have to walk through hell to get there.
The thing about suffering is that it doesn’t skip over God-fearing people. It doesn’t skip over the kind, the lovely, and the generous. It doesn’t skip over people whose Bibles are worn from use.
Suffering doesn’t knock only at the doors of the ungodly. Suffering is the reality of the human experience.
We misrepresent the gospel when we don’t acknowledge that suffering is a part of being a Christian. When we say “yes” to a life with Jesus, there is no flip of a switch where your world brightens up with only sunshine and rainbows, like the perfect summer day. Sometimes, life feels more like winter, where you’re trapped in an unforgiving blizzard.
I am reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul, who wrote this: “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29, ESV). In this passage, Paul doesn’t specifically describe the type of suffering. Yet, we can certainly understand from his words here that, if you are in Christ, you are also “in suffering,” in its various forms.
Jesus often pointed to the connection between suffering and following Him. “And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23, ESV).
Here are five things the enemy wants you to believe when you are suffering like this:
You’ve not been faithful enough.
This will never get better.
God isn’t actually good.
Your prayers are wasted.
God isn’t going to come through for you.
What I remind myself of in times of suffering is that Jesus and His cross prove that the enemy’s lies are untrue.
What god in the history of gods was willing to enter into the physical reality of the human experience? Our God alone.
Jesus willingly walked this earth, experiencing every pain, loss, betrayal, and heartbreak we feel.
As the late Tim Keller once said: “Jesus Christ did not suffer so that you would not suffer. He suffered so that when you suffer, you’ll become more like him. The gospel does not promise you better life circumstances; it promises you a better life.”
As we suffer, Jesus is the One who steps in to comfort us.
A friend of mine, going through an agonizing time, told me recently, “I would rather suffer with Christ by my side.” And this — “Christ beside us” — is our great comfort when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. David reminds us in Psalm 23, that as we walk the valley, we can fear no evil, for God’s rod and staff comfort us.
As you face your own suffering, know that God’s goodness and mercy are following you, all the days of your life.
He is in this with you, even when you suffer – especially when you suffer.
If you’re currently in a place of suffering, Stuff I’d Only Tell God is for you. It’s a journal that gives you space and permission to be right where you are, in your suffering, your doubts, and your healing.