Written and media by Maggie Schoepke.
Whether it’s a nail in the foot or a thorn in the side, each of us confronts suffering in a different way. It is unpleasant, uncomfortable, and in the face of such circumstances the only thing one cares about is the struggle ahead. At such times, it is important to consider the Ultimate Truth and how reading it might unbind us from ongoing agony. By delving into the Bible and communicating with the Word made flesh, we can seek to understand our present circumstances, and it is through that understanding that healing can then take place.
James 1:2-4 attempts to explain why suffering occurs, for the purpose that its readers may one day be healed. It says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Just as perseverance does its work on us, so pain helps restore us to something better than we were before. With healing comes wholeness, but either can only happen if suffering occurs first.
Jesus himself understood this when he gave his life for those who prosecuted him. He endured emotional anguish and physical torture, all for the hope that those who were spiritually dead could live again in Him. Since Jesus was in human form at this time, we can directly apply his actions to our own lives. He too despised suffering and yearned to be healed and relieved of all his burdens. He cried out to his Father in heaven and asked that he might be pardoned from his present agony and the pain that was sure to come. Even in his desperation, however, he recognized that if his Father had other plans, it must be for the best (Romans 8:28).
Not only did Jesus realize his Father had only the best intentions in mind for his son, but Christ also recognized that the Creator allowed suffering so that the struggles of creation would showcase His glory. 2 Corinthians 13:9 says, “For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for.” Likewise, the God of heaven and earth allows healing so that He may also receive our recognition. Psalm 23:3 comments, “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
Whether it be for God’s glory (Romans 8:18) or our own betterment, He has a plan in our suffering and it is therefore essential that we place our trust in the One Who Knows All Things. He does what He does for a reason, because His will is perfect, and thus we are to follow it. Hosea 6:1 commands, “Come let us return to the Lord; for he had torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.”
In the King James Version, long suffering is listed as one of the Fruits of the Spirit; it helps to mold and shape individuals into and ever-durable character like the one who created them. Now that it is understood where struggles arise and why they are allowed to happen, the healing process can begin, and whether or not you find full restoration in this life, always hold onto the promise that if you are in Christ, you will be graced with unending healing in the afterlife (Psalm 34:18).