Could there ever be any good that comes from suffering? Well, if you only look at suffering, duh, the answer is a resounding “no”! But as I serve in ministry, both spiritual and physical, I do see some good in suffering.
For a year now, I have struggled with a foot condition called plantar fasciitis. It is an inflammation of the soft tissues in the foot. It makes walking painful and the feet to ache. It has severely hindered my long distance marathon training and has made some days very difficult to bear.
But suffering has done some good things to me. It has slowed down my pace somewhat, to say the least, and has had me reflect on my motives for all that I do. I also now have a profound compassion for those confined to a wheelchair, or those who may hobble around with canes, crutches or walkers. A compassion that didn’t come from reading or observing, but from experiencing the pain first hand. All of that enhances my service to others, not diminish it.
I have a new joy and gratitude at being able to walk or hike 5-10 miles (or less), even if I can’t run it. I have suffered through other challenges too. Enduring a myriad of painful tests to rule out cancer (and thank God it was ruled out), has deepened my appreciation for health and health care workers. One of my brothers died far too young, but the pain of his loss brought about some family restorations that would previously have been unattainable.
Families with alcoholism, drug addictions, imprisonments and the like, have often had gain through their pain. Some former inmates go on to form huge, effective prison ministries to help the incarcerated (Charles Colson), or are fatherless and in poverty, yet reach heights of success and expertise never expected (Dr. Ben Carson). Their pain has been their gain!
The list is lengthy how suffering has helped many to turn a page in their lives to a chapter they would have never known except for the presence of that pain.
Now, I am not suggesting you run to the head of the line just to be first to suffer! No way. I am just suggesting that, seeing as we are in a cursed body on a cursed earth where suffering is commonplace, we should see it from God’s perspective. He knows this place is a mess but He can make lemonade out of lemons better than anyone! Your suffering not only can be for your betterment, but it can also work out things in those who helped you through that suffering, too. Win-win, in my book. Endure the fire…it’s producing pure gold!