Sometimes when we are suffering, we think we’re the only ones. You may be the only one who understands what it’s like to be in your shoes, but perhaps it’s better if we stepped inside someone else’s for a minute.
A FEW COMMENTS THAT RUBBED ME WRONG
I need a second to get something off my chest. You see this same thing has been occurring over the past several years and I feel the need to address it:
If you’re an older person, please don’t make blanket statements to young people about life only being hard when you get older.
Here are two things I’ve been told:
- “You don’t know anything yet, you’re young. Your life is easy.” (Four months after a horrendous flareup and one of the deepest depressions I’ve ever been through)
- “It sucks getting older. You young people need to appreciate your bodies, you don’t even know pain yet.” (After 7 years of the worst pain of my life, as I take over 40 pills a day to manage it)
Because I was raised to have respect for my elders, in both instances I just smile and nod. Maybe that’s not the correct response, but hey, I’m a pretty non-confrontational person.
I don’t think these people are intentionally trying to wound. If anything it’s a strange attempt to encourage.
But for anyone who’s ever been through anything difficult before 60, it is like daggers to the heart. I feel the urge to scream, if you had any idea of what I’ve been through…
But the reason I don’t is because I’m not trying to one-up anyone…which kind of feels like what I’m doing now, so I’m sorry if it comes off that way, but hear me out.
WE ALL EXPERIENCE SUFFERING
I have realized through my own hardships that practically EVERY person you come across is dealing with, has dealt with, or is about to deal with something very hard.
Maybe your life has been easy, maybe even great up to this point. If so, praise the Lord! My life was that way until about 27. I really hadn’t been through anything hard in my life. But in one year I got pregnant and lost my baby and my mother-in-law died of brain cancer three weeks before my next child was born. That was a wake-up call. Any one of those things would have been. In that season I learned:
- There can be great fear even in a season of joy (having a miscarriage and then worrying throughout a healthy pregnancy)
- That cancer is traumatic to everyone involved (I had no idea what it looks like to visit someone every weekend and watch them deteriorate before your eyes)
- That no one is exempt from suffering (I now saw people through a different lens–you have no idea what someone is dealing with at home)
I’m sure reading through this you have your own sad story to tell. And I’m sorry. I hate that for you. But how are you telling people your story? In a way that hopes people will pay attention to you, or points them toward the one who redeems all things?
HOW CAN WE SUFFER WELL?
Maybe we should stop offering everyone our opinions and start listening a little better. This isn’t a message for old people–it’s for all of us, no matter the age! We’re all struggling to get it right.
If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that there are a lot of suffering people in the world, and we need to start becoming part of the solution, not adding to the problem.
Here are a few thoughts:
- Start seeing other people as your brothers and sisters in Christ, not someone you have to one-up
- Believe the best in others, most of us are just doing the best we can
- When someone else is acting hurtful, show some grace—we don’t always know what people are dealing with at home
- Be proactive: if you’re suffering, let people know how they can help in a way that honors them instead of making them feel guilty
- Be compassionate: offer to help others suffering too, look around for those in need
We’re in this together. Let’s not make it a competition.
HOW CAN WE APPROACH SUFFERING LIKE CHRIST?
Recently I read through the book of Job, and was reminded that no one is safe from suffering. God’s character seems out-of-character when you first read the story, but by the end you are humbled along with Job. God allows us to suffer sometimes because it’s only through suffering that we truly grow and learn lessons he wants to teach us in order to become more like Christ.
When I go through hard seasons, I get a better perspective on what the Bible teaches when it says:
"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord." James 1:2-7
Don’t let your hard season be wasteful. Look for the silver lining, seek what God may be teaching you. Don’t assume you have it the worst. And acknowledge those you see suffering too.
I am not discounting what you’re going through. Life is hard. You are allowed to mourn what was lost and even lament to God! I’m simply encouraging you to not let your hardship strip you and everyone around you of the hope he promises.
“Let us hold resolutely to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:23-24
If you are going through a good season, praise the Lord! Give him thanks, and encourage those around you.
Not everyone’s life looks like yours. And not everyone started on the same page. Be gracious, be kind. Let’s start truly seeing one another for who we are: equals as children of God.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE…
For more posts like this, check out:
- Your Story is Worth Sharing
- Looking for the Silver Lining During Difficult Times
- Using Music as Therapy To Cope In Hard Times
- Choosing Faith Over Your Fear
- How I Went From Survival Mode to Intentional Living
You’ve got this!
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