One of the things I remember my DBT leader talking about in group therapy was meaning.
Finding a point, finding a meaning, or even beginning to believe there could be a purpose in our suffering, can make all the difference. It is the difference between hope and despair, between giving in or going down fighting. Between ultimately losing, or ultimately triumphing.
The church I’ve recently been attending has a wonderful pastor, who just gave an inspiring, deeply felt sermon on this passage of Scripture from 2 Corinthians 1:1-11:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God, who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
The main point of the sermon: recycling suffering.
After all, what does it all matter, if it doesn’t matter at all?
But guess what: God will not waste your pain, and He will not rip you off.
The Lord will fulfill His purpose for you, even if you feel completely messed up, like I do when I sin against somebody, or get sick all the time, or when I was placed in a psychiatric institution for a few days.
I’m not telling you guys this to try to ‘dump my life story and all its trash.’ I’m bringing up these things because so many people
(1 Think something like that in their life can’t be used – something like struggling with physical or mental health, or mistakes in their past, or bad relationships with their family or church members, or the most shameful dark secrets they’ve kept inside, and
(2 We are tempted to keep our story private at all costs.
I’m not saying it is fun, what some of us have had to go through. I’m not even saying it was all good – but it can be USED for good, for deeper meaning in our lives.
If I hadn’t struggled with my mental health, I would never have found that field of work and study. And I would never have met some of the best people I’ve ever known.
And hear me right now: You don’t need to share your life story with EVERYBODY. Even if you share your story with one person, and it changes one life for the better, I believe all the pain you went through will have been worth it. Start with letting your story change YOU for the better.
No human can measure emotional pain, or the impact it has on our hearts.
But God can.
God can see it, and feel it, as He is our great High Priest, greater than our hearts, and knows everything, sees everything, hears everything.
The point of this post is to say:
God loves you, and He is watching over you right now.
God doesn’t want anyone to suffer, but if you are suffering, and you belong to Him, He promises to use all that suffering to build something beautiful.
Don’t be afraid to share your story. There will never be another one like it. And yet, I can guarantee that someone else out there needs to hear it.
Songs about Suffering, and What It’s All About:
Kitchen Sink – Twenty One Pilots
He’s Always Been Faithful – Sara Groves
Hospital Flowers – Owl City
The Rain Keeps Falling – Andrew Peterson
Thy Will – Hillary Scott and the Scott Family
Scars – Colton Dixon
Scars – Johnny Diaz
I Need You Now – Plumb
Your Hands – J J Heller
Jehovah Shalom – Shannon Wexelberg
Not Alone – Meredith Andrews
Dear Younger Me – MercyMe
Masterpiece – Danny Gokey
Hope in Front of Me – Danny Gokey