One night I sat across from my friend at the bar inside the Canal Street Pub. He had just finished getting a divorce. We were talking about struggle and suffering and our relationships with God. He looked at me and said:
“I’ve never felt or heard God as clear as I have right now.”
If you haven’t had the chance to do it, please check out my last few posts. Our church suffered a major loss as our pastor Bryan Koch and his wife Lynn were in a motorcycle accident. Lynn passed away and Bryan is still in ICU. The accident was last Sunday. The day after the accident, my grandmother passed away in the hospital.
Now, Val and I have the same issues as every married couple. We deal with money problems, stress, the kids, and how to fill a summer now that elementary school is out for Carter. When things ramped up this pas week, I found the idea to be true.
There is a clarity in suffering.
In church, we witnessed a congregation of almost 3,000 people gather on Wednesday night to pray in unity for Bryan and his family. At the reception following my grandmother’s funeral there was a board of photos. As I looked over the pictures, spanning the 99 years of my grandmother’s life and our family, my dad eventually appeared at my side. I started asking him about specific pictures and he told me exactly what was happening in them.
The memories came clear and vivid. We laughed at old times. Others at the reception stopped to look with us. In those moments, you feel the bonds of family.
Suffering gives us a target. When things go well we can get scattered. When the bottom falls out, we have a target. We have a clear and present need. God opens a door for us to experience his presence.
Suffering gives us a reason. We look to God in the good and bad. We are driven towards the everlasting when we are reminded that everything else is temporary. People ask, “Where was God?” The answer can take a lifetime to realize and communicate.
Suffering gives us a result. The more I go, the more I believe that suffering is a part of faith. Don’t believe those that tell you a life of faith is one of paradise. Our struggles are the building blocks of faith. We must go through the fire to see how God pulls us through. The ending is not quick but it is worth it.
We will see joy once again. We will have peace and understand faith. We will get to the next chapter.
Until then, we give thanks in all things because it is the ultimate victory, the push against the hurricane of this world that threatens to blow us off course. It is our recourse, our unity, our chance to show we are in this world and not of it.
If you are in the midst of suffering tonight, turn to God and be honest. He can take it. Let it out and, if you can’t sleep tonight, do it again. You will make it through. I promise.
I wrote a small e-book about struggle based on my experiences in life, marriage and family. It is available for free. Check it out and let me know what you think. You’ll find it at the link below.