Sheri Wohlfert explains three ways God can bring good out of our suffering.
The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ [Jesus] will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little. (1 Peter 5:10)
There is a great story about a little girl whose mother sent her to the store to pick up an important item. She told the little girl to come directly home after she picked it up. Much to the mother’s dismay, her daughter was nearly two hours late returning home. When she arrived, she apologized for taking so long and explained that she ran into her friend, who was crying because her doll was broken. The little girl was so sad about it that she just had to stop and help her friend. Her mother asked her how she helped fix the doll, and she replied that she didn’t. She didn’t know anything about fixing dolls, so she just sat down and helped her friend cry.
I’m feeling a lot like that little girl lately! As we wait to return to something, anything, that has even a smidge of familiar, the days are getting long and the rules are getting heavy. I’ve chatted with several folks this week and it seems all I could do was help them cry. We’ve cried about disappointments, missed occasions, watered-down celebrations and flat out dismay. We’re frazzled, contained and running out of cheerful creative energy. Parents are tired of teaching and working and juggling a house full of needs, wants and worries.
If we’re being honest, we may be getting a little sick of each other, and blanket forts and sidewalk chalk have lost all appeal. We cook 432 times a day, we can’t seem to get enough toilet paper, and for crying out loud why are we out of Cheez-Its and apples AGAIN? It will get better, but maybe the best thing we can do right now is just sit down and help someone cry! At our core we want to be compliant, we want to be obedient, we want to be logical, but most of us just want to bail off this crazy bus!
I can make a list of a bazillion great things that have come out of this quarantine, but right now it’s OK if we’re feeling a little “over it all.” My mom used to say the best thing to do with feelings is just sit still and feel them. Let them wash over you and spit out what you’re thinking. Make a list of all the things your mourning, mad about, disappointed about and feel you were cheated out of. Feel it all … acknowledge it all and realize we have all felt this thing deeply and differently. It’s OK if you’re toast … it’s OK if you’re enjoying the quiet … it’s OK if you are worried and fearful enough to not want to leave home yet. ITS OK! Let’s stop judging reactions and just cry or laugh or pray with each other right where we are.
I read a little something that said during times of great testing (like right now!) three things happen. God is able to reveal, to purify and to strengthen. In order for those things to happen we have to “sweep the emotional porch.” Let it all out and then take a look at what God might be doing or might be wanting to do. That purging of emotion will allow us to move forward so we can receive the gifts from our suffering.
Through our suffering, Almighty God …
Reveals. What have you learned about yourself during this trial? What is clearer to you now than before? Where are you stronger than you knew and more tender than you thought?
Purifies. If I want this suffering to bring me closer to God I have to think about where I place my hope? The place I put my hope reveals the source of my security. Am I looking to the governor or my spouse or the newscaster to bring me hope, or am I seeking the pure and true hope of the Father?
Strengthens. Where is my strength coming from? Do I feel strong only on those days I’m able to pull myself up by the bootstraps and slap on a happy face? Strength isn’t defined by not yelling at the kids or screaming at the screen about the latest goofy prediction or scenario. Strength comes from the praise and honor we give the Father in the middle of all that. Strength comes from the Father, not from ourselves. The more we ask, rely and beg for His strength, the more we step out of ourselves and into His loving protection.
Our trials are not without purpose, and maybe the three gifts of suffering might help our perspective a little.
A Seed To Plant: Feel your feelings and find someone to help you cry or yell or pout your way through it all so you can see the work he’s waiting to do through the three gifts of suffering.
Blessings on your day!
Copyright 2020 Sheri Wohlfert
Image: Lucas Pezeta (2019), Pexels
About the Author
Sheri is a Catholic wife, mom, speaker and teacher. She uses her great sense of humor and her deep faith to help others discover the joy of being a child of God. Her roots are in Kansas but her home is in Michigan. The mission of her ministry is to encourage others to look at the simple ways we can all find God doing amazing things smack dab in the middle of the laundry, ball games, farm chores and the hundred other things we manage to cram into a day. Sheri also writes at JoyfulWords.org.