God entrusts us with the gift of suffering, so we can share his grace with others.
In my blog surfing, and website trawling, I came across the above quote on Desiring God. It really spoke to me. In early 2012, I went through an experience that made me feel like my world had fallen to pieces. At the time I was so lost in the pain, it was hard to think about even the smallest things, like cooking dinner, brushing my hair, or buying food for my cats. I remember being at the shopping centre trying to buy cat food. I could barely even remember what brand it was I usually buy. I couldn’t calculate the difference in prices between brands (I’m such a nerd shopper sometimes!) and I couldn’t even remember what aisle the pet food was in. I remember having to tell myself to breathe, and realizing I was in the laundry aisle. I’d been standing in the laundry aisle for about 5 minutes. And a sad song came on the radio. My throat was so constricted I found it hard to breathe, almost like I was suffocating. A moment of panic seized me as I realized I couldn’t find the cat food, but I couldn’t stand there listening to this song and silently suffocating. I’m not sure in the moment I was even thinking about whether or not my pain had a purpose. There is much written on the topic of suffering and we can’t even scratch the surface in one blog post. But I know I was in survival mode at the point of my greatest pain. I had spent a lot of time reading the word, surrounding myself with family and friends, but at the end of the day the greatest pain found me when I was alone. When I wasn’t thinking of anything in particular. When I was simply trying to muddle through one day at a time. But slowly as the pieces of my heart began to heal and I drew more and more from scriptures, I began to ponder about suffering.
I found a quote by GK Chesterton.
The one thing that would make suffering intolerable would be the thought that it was systematically inflicted upon sinners. On the other hand, the doctrine which makes it most endurable is exactly the opposite doctrine, that suffering may be a strange honour and not a vulgar punishment.
G. K. Chesterton
My suffering was a strange honour. It had a purpose. I would live through it to share it with others. This was a magnanimous discovery for me. And then I was reminded of times I spent sitting with friends in Cafes. Sharing with them my love and tears when their hearts were devastated by similar things. The deep kinship that helped them get through it, the same way I would. The knowledge of true empathy of one who has shared pain was precious to them.
Maybe that’s why I loved the Desiring God quote. Why it resonated with my heart and experience. Perhaps because it is a picture of Jesus. His suffering. His heart of empathy that has walked the road before us.
So if you are suffering now, and you feel like you have nothing left to give take comfort in the knowledge that God knows it and shares it. And He gives you grace for the journey. The following poem by Annie Flint really sums up what I have been considering in this post.
HE GIVETH MORE GRACE
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
His love has no limit; His grace has no measure.
His pow’r has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!
*disclaimer: no linked websites in this post have paid me to post this. I just linked them to be helpful. 🙂