Suffering isn’t easy, but trusting God is worth it
I came to L.A. to be pursue singing, so when I randomly (and I mean randomly) landed a network soap opera role that lasted eight years, no one was more surprised than I was. Strangers suddenly wanted to be my friend? Famous people were sending me sending me party invites. I couldn’t believe it! It was so exciting!
When I voluntarily left the show to go back into singing, again the surprise was on me when, suddenly, people stopped talking to me. Friends were now acting like strangers. Celebrity party invites stopped coming. I couldn’t believe it! Exciting? NOT.
As a practicing Christian, you’d think I’d be a stronger at withstanding such injury. After all, Christ died on a cross and he did nothing wrong. Why should I be so upset about not getting Christmas cards in the mail from people who I had celebrated with for eight years straight?
Still, it did bother me, and for good reason. Who doesn’t want to feel accepted and loved? And yet, in time, I realized how important it was to discern who I was being accepted and loved by. Were they people of character? Were they people with Godly intent? Clearly the answer was “No.” When I realized that what truly mattered was who I was in God, not people, the pain minimized dramatically.
If God is for me, who could be against me? – Romans 8:31
Pastor Tim Hager, an associate minister in the Washington D.C. area, said it well when he wrote, “Truths that are timeless often need only the ‘time’ brushed away in order to reveal the polished patina that has gleamed all along.”
Yes, I needed time of solace… time away from my hectic Hollywood life… to see myself through Christ’s reflection instead of society’s.
Are You Feeling Pain’s Sting?
Maybe you’re feeling hurt and rejected? Perhaps you going through a little bit of reinvention? Perhaps you’re not sure why some folk aren’t talking to you anymore, or why you are rubbing people the wrong way?
While it’s super important to pause and see your part in the demise of a relationship, it’s also imperative that you remember that pain is a healthy part of a Christian’s growth. Sometimes relationships die for a reason. God might be telling you, “Hey, you’re ready for the next level. I got this. You’re gonna be okay. But you have to trust me.”
For me personally, it was imperative I endured a bit of suffering so that I could lean into God’s truth about who I was. Could that possibly the case for you, too?
“But I Don’t Like To Suffer”
Join the club, sister. Who likes it? It’s why, as a society, we’re so hooked on drugs, food, alcohol, sex, shopping, TV… anything to distract us from the pain. But here’s the bummer: It’s just a temporary distraction. The pain is still there, only worse, because now you’re stuffed full of donuts, tired from work, have a hangover or are jittery. Whatever your escape of choice, there’s another option!
If we can be brave and stare pain in the eye… if we can be courageous enough to give our pain to Jesus… then, and only then, can we transform into the amazing people Jesus intends us to be.
Our Own Savior Suffered
If you’re suffering, take comfort in that our very savior suffered, too. And guess what? He rose! So you can, too.
Five Verses to Encourage You During Times of Suffering
As I mentioned in my last post, I always tell the ladies I Bible study with to memorize Scripture. If you say it enough times, you’ll start to believe it. Here are five verses to get you going:
- But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle [you].Intimacy with God is often borne in the furnace of affliction. – 1 Peter 5:10
- These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33
- And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.- Luke 14:27
- And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. – Revelation 21:4
- There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it]. – 1 Corinthians 10:13
To end with another quote from Hager, he writes, “There’s an opening of the soul that happens during times of stress or duress…During times of suffering, we experience God at a deep, profound level.”
I personally know that to be true. And while I pray that your suffering is short, I pray that you use this time to grow closer to a God who will bring you through this to a place of beauty and life.
As the founding co-director of Ascend Women’s Conference, Brenda Epperson loves to speak to women about how God can transform their lives. For more information or to contact her, visit BrendaEpperson.com.