Suffering in one form or another is an unalterable fact of life, though we do not welcome it. But what if there is purpose to be found in our suffering? How might it alter our outlook if we could see the hidden worth of suffering in a biblical sense?
Where suffering meets radical grace
“Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace where we are able to celebrate the hope of experiencing God’s glory. And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness.” — Romans 5:2-4 The Voice
The bible verse above reveals why suffering, although not good in itself, can produce rich spiritual fruit in us. This character-forming endurance involves a willing surrender and an acceptance of God’s calming presence with us, as we gratefully receive His gift of peace in all of life’s painful circumstances.
If we are able to trust that our character and perspective are being positively changed by enduring suffering with grace and faith in our hearts, then we can learn to view it differently than we did before. We become equipped to hold onto hope in the darkest of circumstances.
Think of an oak tree. It’s a symbol of endurance and strength, often over centuries, no matter what the elements might throw at it. The roots go deep, while the branches and leaves stretch up to the light. It drinks in every available drop of goodness, while it provides food for diverse wildlife as well.
It can withstand multiple storms, spreading itself like an umbrella as it ages, while maintaining its solidity and quiet centre. An oak tree rests in its given place as it moves and bends with the wind, and draws strength from years of patient endurance. Perhaps we can learn to do likewise?
Make like an oak tree
Hold your quiet centre You must hold your quiet centre even if all around you changes; be like the oak, be still, encircled by radiating rings of remembrance, whorls of wisdom, a patterning of patience, and a uniform, quiet unyielding to the wild and dark things. As you hold your quiet centre, you will come across outer and inner turbulence, but you must not allow it to drown out your soul dreams, to mutilate your mindfulness, to strip you bare—unless you have acquiesced to it. When you hold your quiet centre, it acts like a strong soul ballast, bolstering your mood, fostering a resilient attitude, developing great endurance in the face of harsh storms, a growth of faith and strength found only in those who are patient. If you falter and fail to hold your quiet centre, do not despair because even the oak must bend, get struck by lightning, torn and weathered into weariness—but still it seeks to stand strong, to resist, fortifying itself against the elements as each season brings its own shift. You must hold your quiet centre, although the world might mock, scorn you for not going with the crowd, the throng, yet you are growing, and they are not; for you are friends with restful solitude, sometimes it’s the only friend you know, because the most sacred secret you possess is calm and peace at the heart. © joylenton
Thank you for the reassurance that our suffering isn’t wasted because it has a divine purpose we can participate with, as we also receive your precious gift of Peace.
Be with us in our suffering or when we watch our loved ones suffer. Even as we seek your support, help and healing, grant us the strength to endure hardship, affliction, sickness and trials, by your grace.
Show us how to maintain our quiet centre of faith when storms come so that we can mature and grow strong. Let us never lose heart but allow our faith to exponentially increase as our endurance grows.
PS: “Peace” is one of my #oneword365 words for 2022 and I’ll be sharing more about it here. The other word is “Change” and I’ll be writing poetry and thoughts on that theme over at poetryjoy.com this year. 🙂 ❤