Suffering is one of the hardest things to comprehend about our lives. As a believer I know there have been times where I've wondered about why I've had to suffer things that bring me immense pain? That, at one time, made me into a person of extreme anger and malice. If God is so big, then why couldn't he have prevented this suffering or at least stopped it?
As my son was quietly working on his homework I found a book in the pile he had been awarded as part of his summer reading through our local library. It was a book about Louis Braille, the man who invented Braille. An amazing story of a man who began life with full sight, but at the age of 3 lost his vision when he got ahold of his father's tools and gauged his own eye out. Soon the wound became infected and spread to the other eye and he became blind.
In the world Louis lived in people who were blind most often became beggars and depended on strangers to bring them aide. They were seen as people who were not worth taking the time to educate or invest in. Louis' parents felt very different and they began to try to make his life liveable.
One day the new priest of their small town came to visit the Braille's household and he saw the light that was in Louis, how eager he was to learn. He began to instruct him and eventually aquired entrance into the school for the blind in Paris.
Louis' thirst for knowledge and the urge to read, coupled with various people God placed in Louis' path led him to form the Braille alphabet, something people had been trying to figure out for hundreds of years! Although he died at a young age, it wasn't long until Braille caught on and soon became a standard learning tool for the blind, enabling them to read everything that was in print.
However, Louis did not go from A to B without enduring a lot of opposition, oppression, trials and suffering. He suffered constantly from tuberculosis, the new head master of the school he was educated and later taught at burned all of the books he created for his students. Years of work gone in a flash, but he persevered.
I would venture to say that not one blind person would wish that Louis Braille had not endured suffering and trials. Without going through what he did he probably would have never sought to know of a way to help blind people read. Out of his suffering came many blessings.
While I wish that I hadn't gone through most of the things I endured as a child I can see now how my suffering, coupled with the love of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life, has given me the ability to bless others. I am empathetic, concerned, more willing to stand up for the oppressed, and I understand the need for Jesus in life deeply. Everytime I suffer I learn. Everytime I suffer I meet a person who is facing something similar and we are able to endure it together. Everytime we suffer we seek the face of God and we rest on His promises, and in turn the blessings flow forth and he is glorified. Most of all sufferning reminds us that this is not our home. We are waiting on the promise that Heaven is the next stop, where suffering doesn't exist. Our job is to still be going into all the world to preach that good news.
So when you suffer or see suffering, turn to God and he will hear your. Reach out to Him for comfort and run to those in need. Embrace suffering, knowing that it is growing your faith.
Romans 5:2-4 New International Version (NIV)
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.