“…and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:7
Pain and suffering is a common human experience. Devoted Christians experience pain and suffering. Non-believers experience pain and suffering. The elderly experience pain and suffering. Those who are youthful experience pain and suffering. There are no exceptions because we live in a fallen and broken world.
One of the things that is important for Christians to understand and embrace is that not only are we not immune to pain and suffering, but that God will not always deliver us from our pain and suffering no matter how much we cry out to Him. There are times when we must embrace the pain and suffering and grasp the comfort of God in the midst of it.
Lewis Smedes, one of my seminary professors, wrote enlightening thoughts about the role of healing within suffer as opposed to healing from suffering. These were his thoughts.
“Ministries of healing are not the main Christian answer to suffering. At their very best, they eliminate a particular suffering of a particular person. They do not remove all suffering from life, and there are still many others suffering the same suffering that was just healed. The healings are signs ‘that God is alive, that Christ is Lord, and that suffering is not the last word about human existence’".
Smedes continued, “Healing from within suffering is as wonderful as healing from suffering. God gives inner strength that compensates for loss, and gives the sufferer resourcefulness to live faithfully and effectively.”
Joni Tada Eareckson Tada is one of the people I admire most from my generation. She became a quadriplegic at the tender age of seventeen. She has known beyond her fair share of pain and suffering.
As far as I am concerned, when Joni Eareckson Tada speaks about pain and suffering, I listen intently. This is one of the things she has said. “He has chosen not to heal me, but to hold me. The more intense the pain, the closer His embrace.” This is healing within suffering when there is no healing from suffering.
Are you experiencing a season of pain and suffering? Have you called out to God and there is no healing to be had? Perhaps, it’s time to experience the embrace of the God of all comfort and ask to encounter healing from within suffering.
Something to think about…