Let Your Suffering Be Your Teacher
(Part 1)

By: Natalie Lamb

Life is a journey! And with most journeys there are high moments of happiness and joy and low moments of pain and suffering. The high is easy to deal with, but the low is sometimes hard to handle. The discomfort, pain, grief, and uncertainties are at times difficult to make sense of. As saints of God, we often believe that we should not grieve or be unhappy. These feelings are thought of as a sign that we are not pleased with God or with our salvation. Yet, it seems to me that we have put too much pressure on ourselves to live this life without experiencing life. Life brings happiness and pain. To act as if we should only be happy because we are saved is an error.

When Christ came He experienced the totality of life. We are in the world but not of it. So we will experience the trauma of the world, we just don't respond the way the world responds. God does not want us to be fake, which is really lying. He wants us to come to Him in honesty so that He can fix it and make it better. If you lie to Him why should He help you?

From a Biblical perspective, we see that it is acceptable to mourn, grieve and have uncertainties. In 2 Samuel 1:11-12, we see David mourn and weep. In Matthew 14:13-14, we see Jesus go to a quiet place alone and grieve after John's death. And we look at Job, who went through countless tragedies, yet he amazingly responds in Job 1:20-22, “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh blessed be the name of the Lord.”

The key is to realize that God is sovereign and to never charge God foolishly, no matter what comes in our life. We have to be confident in God as our protector and know that he will not put more on us than we can bear. This doesn’t mean that we don't get agitated when difficulties come and question, “why me.” Whether it is a death, a separation from someone, material loss, or accepting your reality, we need to mourn it and then move past it. To properly move something out of your life you need to properly express the pain. If we look at Job 3:23-26, he questions why there is so much grief when he's done right. It is especially hard to comprehend “WHY” when we are not the ones causing our own tragedies. We need to make sure that trials and grief, whether temporary or enduring, do not destroy the real purpose of our lives. Our true purpose is to love God, praise Him and trust Him no matter what comes our way.

A wonderful way to overcome adversities is to allow your suffering to be your teacher. Get the lesson to receive your blessing. Instead of thinking “why me” all the time, think what can I learn from this and how did I contribute to this? Unfortunately we get our biggest life lessons from trials, in our natural and spiritual lives. Simply ask yourself, “How can I grow from this pain?” I believe that it is helpful to understand our emotions to better deal with them. We can look at traumas or difficulties this way:

• Anger is what happened! (you are angry at actual event)
• Sadness is what didn't happen!
• Fear is what could happen!
• Sorrow is what can't happen or what you wish could have happened!

Generally with each tragedy you should go through each of these emotions.

Anger is first because it is the easiest emotion to reach. When you are angry it doesn't hurt so much. It is imperative that you go beyond anger and get to your deeper emotions for you to release yourself from the experience.

Sadness is second. For example the person did not live, the relationship was not salvaged, you did not get the job, etc. This is when you can have a good, deep cry. Crying is also a form of surrendering to the pain because you are then acknowledging that it hurts.

Fear is third. You began to think of every negative thing that could happen. For example, you'll never have a good relationship, you'll never get out of debt, you'll get the disease or you'll never be healed. If you get stuck here your life will come to a grinding halt. Fear will take over and will overflow into every aspect of your life.

One aspect of life is risks. Nothing in life is guaranteed. You have to be willing to take risks, in marriage, jobs, and relationships. If you choose not to take risks then, in essence, you have chosen to stay in a comfort zone and never press yourself to achieve your best.

The fourth step is sorrow. This is when reality begins to set in and when you create a wish list. “I wish it could have worked,” “I wish my childhood was different,” “I wish they could have given me another chance,” “I wish he/she could love me.” This is when you need to grieve and mourn your loss. You will become depressed if you lie to yourself, silence yourself and don't allow yourself to feel. You must also incorporate forgiveness to move past anything. Forgiveness can be defined as letting go of the hope that the past can be any different. Stop trying to recreate the past, accept it as it is and move forward.

Take yourself through each of these stages and feel each stage completely!