We come to know the Lord better and the suffering he went though for our sake when we go through suffering ourselves. But only in drawing close to God does this happen. Otherwise we only learn bitterness and despair.
There is a another purpose fulfilled when we use our pain to help others going through suffering and hardships. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.”
May we let no pain or hardship go to waste.
Often, as parents, our children don’t want o listen to what is best for them. When my son, Clint was little he typically wanted to drink more than eat. He was happiest with a sippy cup full of juice. But he couldn’t get all of the nutrients he needed in juice, so we would take it away from him and say “Eat your vegetables first, then you can have more to drink.” At first this advice would be met with crying “Juice, juice”. or maybe a sad “Ju-i-ce” said in such a forlorn voice it was hard not to give in. But eventually he accepted the inevitable and ate his vegetables.
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures.” the very familiar 23rd Psalm says. David was long a shepherd boy. He knew the habit of lambs to want to just run and play. Some times they had to have encouragement with the shepherd’s crook to lie down – to eat and then rest. A lamb might choose to only run, play, and eat in clover. But they need a variety of pasture. A shepherd worth his salt will lead the lamb to other pastures, so they will get what they really need.
In John 10, we have this great passage about Jesus being the good shepherd. His flock know his voice and follow him. Our choice may be to only run and play, then lie down in a bed of ease. But Jesus knows what is best for us. He may lead us, at times, to hardship as that is how we will grow the most. He does not necessarily cause the hardship, but will allow it for our own good. In those times, we are to “press in” to his lead, learn the lessons he wishes to show us, then take on his comfort – lie down in his green pasture.