Over the years I have taken an interest in suffering because of my own challenges through cerebral palsy. It has made me more aware and sympathetic to the suffering others go through. This also gave me a particular appreciation for God’s special gifting and ministry given to Joni Eareckson Tada. After a diving accident when she was 17, she became a quadriplegic, confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. God has turned this incident into a remarkable ministry of comfort and hope for those who go through suffering of any kind.
Joni shares four benefits of suffering that caused her to become more like Christ. (1)
1. Suffering was forcing me to make decisions about following God – I was choosing Him more often over my doubts and fears.
2. Suffering was also doing a cleanup on my character – I was able to stick to promises, quit whining, not be sloppy with relationships, and be more patient. My thoughts were more pure – I couldn’t reach for the common temptations that used to entice me (having no hands to help).
3. Suffering was making me more sensitive to others – before my accident, I didn’t care much about people in wheelchairs, but now it is a different story.
4. I realized that being paralyzed was making heaven come alive – not avoiding, but in a way that made me want to live better here on earth because greater things were coming in the next life with Jesus.
Psalm 68:19 is a great comfort to me and I trust it will be to you also; “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up (bears our burdens).” In the circumstances you face, do you experience the presence of the Lord and find rest in Him? Read Matthew 11:28-30.
(1) Making Sense of Suffering, 2012, page 2.
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