RSS

Dealing with Pain and Suffering

Dealing with Pain and Suffering

By Joni Eareckson Tada

As I begin to count my blessing each year, I am careful to put my pain and suffering – more importantly, what I have learned from it – at the top of my list.  Yes, you heard right.  I am thankful for my suffering, not just in spite of it.  

Often, we want to question God’s goodness when we endure pain, difficulties or disabilities, diseases, death, or destruction.  We ask “Where is God in all of this?”  In years past, I have raised that question myself many times.

When tragic circumstances arise, I remember something I’ve learned over the years.  God doesn’t sit up in heaven and say, “Into each life a little rain must fall,” and then aim a hose in earth’s general direction to see who gets the wettest.  Instead, He screens the trials that come our way, building spiritual fences between us and the enemy’s onslaught.  His filter is guided by His wisdom and compassion, and He allows through only what is ultimately for our good.

Now you may be wondering how God is able to accomplish this.  Well, welcome to the world of finite beings trying to understand an infinite God.  The fact is, God permits all sorts of things He doesn’t approve of.  We don’t like to hear that, but think of the alternative.  Would we rather have a God who took a hands-off policy toward the evil that seems to run rampant in the world?  I don’t think so. If we did, we’d be a lot worse off.  Evil would come barreling at us uncontrolled.  That would be hell on earth.  It’s why we can thank God that he curbs evil and suffering.

Decades in a wheelchair have not made me an expert, by any means.  There are still many mornings I don’t want to get up and face my wheelchair.  “I can’t do this,” I moan, “I have no resources to face another day dealing with paralysis.”  But that’s when I remember God has resources to spare.  “Lord, you have the strength I lack,” I plead.  “I can’t do this, but you can.  Please help me make it through this day with your strength and your patience and joy.”  And He does.

Those who start their mornings on automatic cruise control, without needing God, are the truly handicapped ones.  James 4:6 says that “God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.”  Who are the humble?  Just people like you and me who recognize our desperate need of our Savior.  And thankfully, He gives strength to all who cry to Him for help.

We live in scary times when the lines between the forces of good and evil have never seemed so clear.  The world, battered and bruised as it is, has never before seemed so fragile, so unstable.  Even our personal world feels unstable.  Suffering seems to be pandemic with record numbers of people in counseling for depression or in therapy for dependency on pain-relievers.  And sometimes in this craziness, God feels so distant.

But is He?  Could He be allowing these desperate times to force us to seek Him more earnestly?  Forty-six years ago when God answered “no” to my prayers for physical healing, He was answering “yes” to a better, deeper healing.  His “no” answer made me reach out urgently for his nearness and presence.  My suffering taught me so much about myself and has bound me to other believers who deal with pain and affliction.  The day-to-day pain and suffering that never goes away has forced me to depend on His grace, strengthened my commitment to Him and purged sin from my life.  Times of difficulty have deepened my prayer life, refined my faith, and stretched my hope.  Most of all, I have gleaned a deeper appreciation for the sufferings that my Savior endured to secure my salvation.  And there is nothing sweeter than finding yourself “in the fellowship of sharing Christ’s sufferings” (Philippians 3:10).

So, each year I make a point to thank God, not in spite of my suffering, but for it.  I thank Him for the better choice, the wiser answer, and the harder yet richer path.  I thank Him for showing me that there are more important things in life than walking.


Joyful sorrows. Unbelievable right? Yet, when we learn to recognize what God has done and can do in the midst of our suffering, joy beings to replace our pain. Read more

Pain and Suffering

Lisa TerKeurst shares her journey through heartbreak to redeeming brokenness; discovering how to find hope and strength when life leaves you shattered. Read more

Hope in Difficult Times

How do we trust God when the worst happens? Four-time cancer survivor, Tamara Windahl, shares her journey of faith and trust in difficult circumstances. Read more

Faith 1 Comments

Katherine Scott Jones shares how God used His Word and the gift of His truth to speak radically transforming assurance into the difficult circumstances of life. Read more

Faith

In a world where it’s easy to bury hurts in unhealthy habits or behind false images, there is a different way to cope and find hope - try "looking for lovely". Read more

Life

How do you persevere through trials when you are hurting and bone weary? You cling to God’s promises - for they will bring you comfort in the crunch! Read more

Life

Walk with a family holding on to faith as they journey through tragedy; trusting God to lead the way as their light in the tunnel! Read more

Faith

When longing for the trials you face to shape you into the heroes you admire, remember - being refined into the likeness of Christ never happens passively! Read more

Hope in Difficult Times

How do we celebrate life in the midst of "the hard"? How do we grieve and still find peace and rest; find joy despite the sadness? Read more

Tough Times

What do you do when God says wait? If we let Him, God can use our waiting journeys to shape us, to make us into the people He created us to be. Read more

Faith

Be encouraged that in the midst of the mundane moments or dark days of suffering, Jesus is always there, life is surprisingly beautiful and God is forever good. Read more

Tough Times

When trials touch those we love, fear often holds us captive. Yet peace is possible with the conviction that God Himself will be all that we need to cope. Read more

Tough Times

C. S. Lewis wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Read more

Tough Times

Remember, Jesus first sifts through every trial that touches us through His wise and loving fingers and He gives us grace even in the furnace of affliction. Read more

Tough Times

How can I trust God through hardship and uncertainty? Look at the Japanese art of Kintsugi. God too will make the broken beautiful! Read more

Faith

What should you should say to someone who is hurting or in response to someone who has hurt you? Read more

Faith

There is so much brokenness when a marriage end. Is it possible to ever love again after a divorce? Lean into God, listen to His voice, let Him be your everything and heal your heart. Read more

Divorce and Separation

Remember, God is good, He hears your prayers, He loves you, and even if He doesn’t always save you from pain, He makes it count. Read more

Prayer 1 Comments

Chronic illness can shape us all. It is a journey God will not waste. Drawing us closer to Himself, not wasting the pain and keeping our hope alive. Read more

Physical Health

When we accept that which we cannot change has come to use with the full knowledge and permission of God, we can stop trying to push the trouble away. Read more

Spiritual Growth