Growth through Suffering

By Lesley Mitchell

Our painful experiences can result in the greatest glory to God. Sometimes, after we sink to the depths of despair, God will lift us up to the heights and use us to help others. Pain, when turned to God's service, can produce the sweetest fruit.

The Bible shows, time and again, how God has turned seeming disaster into triumph, and how God has taken people who have been broken by suffering and remade them into beautiful vessels that can be used in His service. The Bible also introduces us to imperfect people who, in spite of their suffering and seeming failures, have been used by God to minister to others. Hebrews chapter 11 is a spiritual "hall of fame" that strengthens our faith and inspires us to greater service.

Job, Joseph and Paul are three examples of people who experienced pain and sorrow, yet in spite of the things they suffered, their faith in God was strengthened as they continued to hold fast to God's promises. Their experiences were part of the spiritual refining process whereby the dross gives way to the purest gold. Yes, out of pain we can emerge as refined gold, fit to be used in God's service.
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
There is something about reaching a breaking point that causes us to seek the Lord more sincerely. King David was once a broken man, and he prayed, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.... The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Psalm 51:10, 17). There are some things in our lives that need to be broken: pride, self-will, stubbornness, and sinful habits, for example. When we feel our brokenness, God compensates: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit" (Isaiah 57:15).

As Christians, we are not spared from the pain and suffering that is part of life. Why, God did not even spare His own Son, and it is hard to imagine the depth of pain and despair Jesus experience on the cross. Jesus viewed all things in the light of eternity, and so should we: "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:2-3).

Claim the promise that cannot be broken: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). "A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.... The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him" (Psalm 34:19-20, 22).

If we prayerfully turn to God and seek to do His will, our experiences can be used to help others. We can offer ourselves as vessels to be used in God's service, as He sees fit. I found these articles insightful and uplifting:

"God's Grace and Human Suffering" by Beth Hyduke
"What does the Bible say about suffering?"
"What does the Bible say about brokenness?"

Image Credit: Unsplash; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsChristian-Life  | Depression  | God-Father  | Hardships

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Published on 11-21-16