When I was considering the idea of suffering and how we overcome the trials in our lives, one of the first people I thought of was my friend Lillie. She is a young woman who, in my opinion, had a childhood of deep suffering. She sincerely does not understand what a miracle she is. However, she epitomizes redemption. She is beautiful in every way, and a constant source of inspiration for me. So when I was pondering suffering and overcoming, she was one of my first friends that I asked about what she considered the causes of suffering, and then what was her life-line when the waves of suffering wash over her. Her thoughtful response follows:
This is just off the top of my head, but I think of suffering's cause as a direct result of sin and the curse. I don't believe God originally created the world with suffering in mind, though He of course knew before creating it what Jesus would suffer. I believe suffering isn't bad or evil in and of itself. (I'm barely beginning to learn this.) It is a great gift and tool in God's hand--gift, in the sense that it can be a warning, like when a child touches something hot after being told "no," or in the case of [my brother]'s cancer, when he pursued help because of pain. Whether suffering is consequences for one's own choice, someone else's choice, or a natural catastrophe or life experience that seems random to us, it can be very beneficial. Suffering seems to "deepen" some people's spirits, and they are able to help bear other people's burdens and to grow very compassionate and gracious through the suffering--as long as they have a deepening, growing relationship with God. Even some "atheists" who go through much can reach out to many people to do "good things." I'm thinking of an "atheist" that Dave has worked for and tried to speak to about God, who has been quite generous to us. "A lady in our church gave a testimony today; she works at a place called "Options for Women," and she has lost 3 babies, two being 2nd trimester stillborns. She said God doesn't heal us from the pain, but with the pain. Maybe this will sound weird, but before we had even begun to pursue having more children after Kayty (she was a little over a year when we started feeling ready to pursue more) I remember having almost a knowledge-thought-thing that I might have a miscarriage or two in order to be more sympathetic and empathetic to other ladies. That thought didn't sound appealing, but it definitely sounded okay at the time, if that makes sense--I wasn't feeling morbid, just knew somehow that it was probably one of God's purposes for me and that there was I guess "peace" or "rightness" about it, I guess. (Btw, I am still "dying" for Him to let me know if I get to give birth to more. I definitely have human struggles!!) Well, I hope this rough little essay in response to your questions (that I still can't believe you asked ME!!) was of some help to you, even though you already know all of this! :o) "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we..." was the first verse that came to mind. The Psalms are probably my favorite place to go when I feel pain, from a "bad day" to the death or abuse of a dear one. Suffering of any kind seems to be, I think, not God's first tool, but a frequently effective one, that draws us closer to Him. When He begins to heal us and reveal to us that He is as perfectly good as Scripture says, we can't help but worship and adore Him, and that is the greatest source of joy and ecstasy there is! The grace far outweighs the pain. I didn't like how I grew up, though grateful for the Bible knowledge and some other things, but the Steeses and my best friend with her family and you wonderful Wordens adopting Jim and I were a gift far greater than I'd ever imagined. Psalm 111 is my "9-11" Psalm to call God in emergency or whenever. It doesn't talk about suffering but about how good God is. I also like Isaiah 12 and Psalm 147. "Bearing one another's burdens" also came to mind. Better go. Would love to read your blog(s). And to hear what YOU have to say about it. Much love to you.The older we get, the more we realize we have to learn, I guess. I agree with you about His individual-style teaching. I heard someone say once that grace comes in different colors for the different colors of pain or suffering, which is essentially what you were saying, I think. I love how you put things, and I really enjoy conversing with you. You're a great treasure of a friend! Have a felicitous day!