I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…. (Romans 8:18).
I don’t like suffering. Suffering, at times, feels shameful and embarrassing. It’s hard to suffer when others see your plight and don’t come alongside in love, but come alongside only to be part of the juicy details of your life or stay silent to your pain, ignoring what you’ve been through and dismissing it or blaming you for it. Suffering exists in this world because of sin, but sin is not something we’re always comfortable dealing with in the church in a way that ushers in grace and restoration for the one who is suffering.
Some suffering is brought on by our own foolish actions, while other suffering is no fault of ours, but is because of the sin of someone else. For many years, I focused not on the sinner, but the sin. I took no time to listen to the story of the one who was sinning or suffering. I had very little compassion in my heart. Until I became the person in need of compassion.
God has a way of humbling us that is for our ultimate good. As long as we don’t try to hide behind a masquerade of perfection, we can live in the freedom of knowing that God is and will restore our brokenness and sin as we come to Him in repentance. We have to be broken first though. Which means that our pride must die at the doorway of our need to show off to others that we have life altogether. You see, when things fell apart in my life, shame came knocking at my door. It’s words pierced my heart like a knife trying to kill the joy of redemption God wanted to do in my life.
Pain has a way of doing that. It keeps us from being able to see the bigger picture. We focus so much on our present that the purpose of our pain gets masked behind the voice of shame, doubt and discouragement.
Maybe the parts of our story that we want to hide the most are the ones that were meant to be put on display. At least, for me, I have found that when I share in my brokenness, other broken people are drawn to me with similar stories. The scars of my past become not a burden to hide, but a story to share.
God heals our wounds. He takes our scars and covers them with His love. Giving us the opportunity to serve as medicine to the hurting as we share space and time with others who, just like us, are in daily need of the grace of God. If we allow God to do it, suffering becomes a gift from our heart to others. Wrapped in the full redemption and restorative love of Jesus Christ. Not in the voice of shame, but in the overwhelming love of God.
Lord, use my story. I want to put it on display for your glory. Take the scars and highlight them so others might see the journey you and I have been on. I long for others to see your redemption in me. Use my life, in all of my messiness to put you on display, in Jesus name, Amen.