Nobody escapes suffering. We are all hurting to some degree right now . . . some of us are in terrible pain. But do you know what’s even worse? It’s suspecting that all this hardship is in vain, that it serves no good purpose.
You may be dragging a load of student debt, but at least you have a degree. You may hate your job, but at least you’re bringing in a paycheck. You may be bedridden, convalescing from surgery, but at least you got it done and hope to improve. But what if the pain is just pain?
St. Paul knew a lot more about suffering than I ever will, and he celebrated the amazing promise of God that none of his life pain was wasted: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:8,9).
Maybe God uses our suffering to make positive changes in us. That’s a win. Maybe our sufferings give us a platform from which to connect somebody else with Jesus. That’s a win. Maybe our pain helps us prepare to let go of this broken and tired world and lift up our eyes to heaven.
That’s a win.