When I was in college, at a time when mending a broken heart was foreign to me, I kept on finding ways to hasten the healing process. I was in pain and I don’t know why do I need to suffer that way. Can’t I just move on and be back to the way it used to be?
In our house as I was contemplating and looking for an answer, I spotted my mom who was sweeping the floor at that time. I approached and asked her, “Ma, ba’t kailangang magsuffer ng tao?” She answered, “Kung si Hesus nga na anak ng Diyos nagpakasakit, tayo pa kayang mga tao?” With her reply, I silently went back to my room and asked no more.
I kept my mom’s answer in my heart all through out the different stages of my life. I finished the grueling years of college, I took and passed the hairfall-causing board exam, I worked in a competitive environment, I had a stressful start-up business with hubby, we got married and made our own family. All those experiences have caused both suffering and inner joy to me.
To some people they may be suffering from a more difficult situation. There maybe someone who is suffering from an incurable illness, a daughter grieving from the loss of a loved one or a wife experiencing a rocky marriage. Truly, no one, even the most spiritual person is spared from suffering.
Not All Sufferings Are Necessary
Viktor Frankl shared in his memoir, that if a suffering is avoidable then do everything that you can to avoid it. And if it is unavoidable, then muster all your strength to embrace it.
Unfortunately, there are people who do just the opposite. A woman suffering from an abusive partner embraces that suffering instead of avoiding it. A man escaping from an emotional turmoil with alcohol instead of facing it.
After reading Frankl’s A Man’s Search For Meaning, I had my own contemplation on the purpose of suffering. They are not new. I’ve learned them from the different preaching I listened to and books that I’ve read. They aren’t extensive either, instead they are just pointers that will make me easily remember them.
The Purpose of Suffering
A Growth in character
For me suffering means developing the characteristics of Christ – patience, long suffering, compassion and faithfulness. When we go through a certain trial in our life, it developed in us a wiser and stronger person.
But suffering can do two things to a person, it’s either he will become “better” or “bitter”. The choice is his.
The Wounded Healer
Who can better understand a person’s suffering than the one who underwent a similar plight? No one of course. Our suffering must lead us to be more compassionate and sympathetic to others. It should lead us to take a step in helping them heal or helping them carry their cross. A word of encouragement and of empathy can do a lot to a struggling heart.
I want to become a marriage counselor, because I got wounded when I was younger. In front of me were my parents with an annulment paper in hand. Only one signature is enough to completely alter the course of my life. But thank God, my mom held on.
Although I was not the wife who was cheated, I still feel an urge to do something. That is, to help marriages and families stay intact. So whenever I hear of a spouse who let go, it really saddens me. Someday, if God is willing, I can be a marriage counselor.
Manifestation of God’s Glory
Ultimately, it is in our weakness that God’s power is made perfect. The strength that we have in carrying our crosses does not come from our own capacity but from His abundance of grace. This is why one of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in Philippians 4:13, where it says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
We all have shares of trials of varying degrees in our lives. Mine are nothing out of the ordinary. But I’m grateful for all of it. Without those, my spiritual muscles won’t get stronger.
Now, I’m no longer that college girl who was once nursing a broken heart. Now, I’m a wife and a mom where the sacrifices and sufferings are in a different form. They aren’t easy, but I’m glad that I’m continuously growing in love, patience and long suffering. I’m embracing it despite its challenges. As one quote said, “If it’s not difficult, it’s note love.”
So What About You?
Share your thoughts? What are the sufferings that has contributed to your growth?