Hey Crowned Royals! I hope you are doing wonderful! It is hard to believe that we are already in a new month and this close to spring. There is something about seasons changing that always reminds me that even the suffering we go through in our lives will pass too just like the seasons. I thought this week we should talk about suffer and I will start us off with this question. What are the unexpected blessings that come from suffering? I am reading a wonderful book by Nika Maples called Hunting Hope that will help us answer this question and see the unexpected blessings in our suffering. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it! (am not being paid to say this, but it is a good book especially if are losing hope and want to hunt for it!
Suffering by definition is the state of going through pain, distress or hardship, and we all have been there sometime in our lives. How did suffering come into your life? was it the lose of a loved one, was it financial struggle or stressful work-life balance? We all have been there so please don’t feel alone. There are many reasons why we despise our time of suffering and if I could share a list we would see a lot of similarities. While we all have legit reasons to despise our suffering, we also fail to understand the reasons for it. In my on sufferings I never understood why it had to be me to go through harder situations and I am guessing you too have felt that way. It is not until I went through the entirety of my suffering that made it clear to me there was not just one, but several unexpected blessings God showed me later. Is there any unexpected blessing that came from your suffering?
Our initial struggle with suffering as human as we are is that we are creatures of comfort and suffering let’s be honest brings discomfort. Because we want the immediate comfort, we either hasten ourselves to get out of the suffering or find comfort in the pain. Those of us that hasten find ourselves seeking comfort in the wrong things and miss the blessings because we needed a quick fix. Those of us that find comfort in pain lose hope and miss the blessings because enduring the suffering till the end felt impossible. I don’t know where you fall in these two categories, but I know from my experience that there always comes blessings from your suffering. Two sure blessings that come from suffering that Nika Maples shared in her book were refined character and oneness with Christ. We will look at both blessings in this blog and hopefully by the end of this read you will understand why you had to suffer for a season.
The blessing of a refined character
Ever thought you could polish up your character and be a better person for you and others? Well, hard to believe that the blessing of suffering refines our character. How is that even possible when you feel defeated to refine your character? That is the whole point, suffering will almost give you a version of yourself that you often couldn’t see because you were comfortable. It is in that very difficult time that our characters are refined and we see the good, the bad and the ugly of ourselves. Have you ever seen an arrogant wealthy man lose all his money remain the same arrogant man after suffering a financial loss? What happens to the wealthy man is that his arrogance is revealed in his suffering and that is an opportunity for him to change that or now become an arrogant poor man. The whole point of this example is for you to think of yourself and what parts of your own character can be refined by your past or current suffering. God wants to work with us, but he needs to refine us and refining happens in the heat of our suffering. Gold is refined in fire for reason, the heat from the fire sheds of the impurity from the gold and makes it pure. Without the heat it is impossible to purify the gold and present it to the world. Your character goes through the exact process as the gold, so the choice is on you. Do you turn the heat off and miss the blessing of refined character or endure till the end and come out refined? Here are a couple of scriptures on refined character;
Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says:
“See, I will refine and test them,
for what else can I do
because of the sin of my people? Jeremiah 9:7 (NIV)
The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but the Lord tests the heart. Proverbs 17:3 (NIV)
See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. Isaiah 48:10 (NIV)
The Blessing of Oneness with God
How do we become one with God? We become partakers in his suffering. Through our own suffering we are able to fully understand God’s sufferings and we too can boast in our own sufferings that created endurance. I am enamored by several people in the bible, but when it comes to suffering and endurance, I learn a lot from Paul. Paul was a mighty man of God who experienced so much persecution for the sake of the gospel. He suffered for what Jesus suffered for, the truth to reach all people. The blessing of oneness with God is that you will also like Paul suffer for the truth and later you will be greatly rewarded for you shared in the sufferings. Oneness with God is a blessing because God now can entrust you to give truth to others. When we come into oneness with God through suffering, we are then well prepared for the sufferings we have not even experienced yet. God equips you for the suffering you endure and brings you to a place of understanding. However, if you lack the understanding of your suffering, you will be unable to comprehend where God has equipped you so that you are able to endure. Hence the need of oneness with God that allows for a clear understanding of your suffering aligned to his own sufferings.
For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 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. 7 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.2 Corinthians 1 v 5-7 (NIV)
Last words, there is comfort in Jesus. The unexpected blessings of suffering are far more worth than the temporal fix of comfort or lose of hope. There is no need to hasten yourselves when God is helping refine your character so that it is more like his own. While suffering is difficult, your endurance and perseverance will surely create good character, which is such a great blessing for you and others around you. With refined character God is able to use you for his glory. Also, while you take part in your sufferings, you take part in his for the sake of the gospel. With your sufferings, you join some of the mighty men and women of God such as Paul that endured for the sake of truth and the received his greatest blessing, the oneness with God and the reward of eternal life in Christ. Use your suffering as training and testing ground! Do not despise it. It is time for us take our rightful place. It is time to trade thorns for crowns!