Many times when we go through difficult seasons we ask the question “Why?” Why is this happening? Why me? Why now? Why this? In almost every case we don’t get the leisure of knowing why God is allowing us to experience pain or suffering, whether it is physical, mental, or emotional. When you are going through a difficult time almost always there is something to learn. There is a way to grow from that experience. Think about it, plants need the rain to grow. We have to go through trials to grow in our faith.
Recently I learned about a man named Dr. Paul Brand. Dr. Brand is the one who discovered that leprosy was not a case of rotting flesh, but actually a lack of nerve endings. Because lepers have a lack of nerve endings they are oftentimes unaware that they have injured themselves and thus become maimed. This caused him to come to the conclusion that pain is necessary in life. In fact, he believed that pain is a gift. Does that sound like an oxymoron to you? When I think about gifts, pain is not one of the words I would associate with it. Gifts, good gifts, are supposed to bring joy to the receiver. Many times they are things that a person has asked for and desires to have. Pain isn’t something I think of wanting or desiring to have.
But pain is a necessary part of life. Even James wrote in the Bible, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
I have gone through some difficult times in my life in the past couple of years. There were times when I couldn’t see the light at the end. I was in the middle of a storm not knowing how long it would last or why I was going through it, but in that time I discovered my need to lean on God. Friends and family can give support, but only God is the true comforter and healer to our spirit. He is the one in whom we find our strength.
I learned that God allowed me to go through some pretty difficult times, so that I would learn to lean on him. I had become too used to only going to God when I really needed Him, not when life was easy and going great. God brought me there, so I would realize my own barrenness and how much I need Him every single day. Even when life is great, I still need Him more than anything.
I have grown closer to God more in the middle of storms in my life than in any other times because it is then when He is all I have left to cling to. Every time He has brought me to a difficult time, it has been to bring me closer to Him and to help me become stronger in my faith. 1 Peter 1:7 says, “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” Being tested isn't fun and it's uncomfortable and at times unbearable, but like fire purifying gold, we have to go through struggles and difficulties to become stronger in our faith. In the end it is all worth it, even though at the time it may not feel like it.
And through our experience with suffering we are able to comfort others. 2 Corinthians 1:4-5 says, "He (God) comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ." Perhaps God is allowing you to experience suffering/pain, so that you can help someone. Perhaps it is to make you stronger, so you can do something He has planned for you. Whatever the reason, God is there with us the entire time. He knows our pain and He is there to comfort us and give us strength to make it through whatever difficult situation we may face.