That seems strange doesn’t it? How can suffering lead to hope? Seems contrary to how most of us want life to be. We don’t want to suffer. Human beings like comfort over pain any day. I have been thinking about suffering lately. Not only the suffering I have endured over the last seven and a half years fighting Celiac, but the suffering I have to endure on top of that any time I get sick. It has been almost three weeks now that I have been fighting some kind of cold virus. It must be a super bug or something because it has really been beating me down. Celiac disease is a chronic auto immune disorder, so when I get sick it hits me much harder than when I was healthy. I am already chronically ill on my best days, so it takes me a long time to get over illnesses now.
I like to watch old John Wayne movies. One of my favorite movies of his is called “True Grit” from 1969. I also like the new one that came out in 2010, but if you haven’t seen the original, I recommend watching that first. I was thinking about John Wayne movies today and the time of the wild west here in America. The way I have to suffer and fight illnesses is much like what the people of the wild west had to do (except I don’t take a shot of whiskey). A lot of times there wasn’t a doctor around to help back then and if there was, there wasn’t much he could for the sick person. People lived out on the prairie on farms and they just had to suffer and grit it out and they either lived or died. It was just that painfully simple. Such were the wild west days.
I can’t have NSAIDS like Ibuprofen anymore, so when I get a fever and I’m in pain I just have to grit it out. There is nothing doctors can do for me. I haven’t even had antibiotics in over seven years. Praise God I haven’t needed them! I don’t know what they would do to me now. Would amoxicillin cause me to go into anaphylaxis? Would I start vomiting violently like when I tried to take Ibuprofen back in 2012? I don’t know and I really don’t want to find out. I don’t go to a doctor unless it is absolutely necessary. Call me old fashioned, but I just don’t trust them anyway.
We have to be tough to get through this diseased fallen world. We have to have true grit. Celiac has made me real gritty. Every morning I wake up, I have to be ready to fight and manage this disease. It is just part of my every day reality now. Suffering toughens us up, but we can’t stop there. If all we have is suffering, we can very easily lose hope. Once a person truly loses hope, it becomes almost impossible to keep living. All of us need hope!
The Apostle Paul suffered greatly. He even had a “thorn in his flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) that he pleaded with the Lord three times to take away. Maybe it was some kind of disease that he suffered or maybe it was some kind of physical pain. We don’t know because Paul never explained it, but it was clear that he suffered. He also suffered multiple torture sessions at the hands of the Romans and he was ultimately murdered by them at the end of his ministry. He stood strong in the face of suffering. Paul had true grit. That is why it gives me hope when I read what Paul wrote about regarding suffering in Romans. Paul let us know that suffering can produce good outcomes for the believer in Jesus.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
Amen! Thank you Jesus for the power of the Holy Spirit! If you are a believer in Jesus who is suffering, please know that God has not abandoned you! We can trust that He is producing a perseverance in us where we can stand with grit against our suffering. That perseverance will develop a character in us where we can be hopeful even in the darkest and most painful circumstances. That, my friends, is beautiful and that is how God can turn suffering into hope. A great hope that is secure in God’s love and will never disappoint us!
The Lord has given us His strength, peace, and joy and we have overcome the world through our faith in Jesus! We can trust that God will turn our suffering into hope! So, if you are suffering today like me, dig deep into the endless reservoir of hope from the Holy Spirit inside of you! Set your face like flint against the suffering of this world and grit it out in the power of God who loves us more than we can imagine! He will never leave us nor forsake us and our suffering does not have the final word!
“Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
and I know I will not be put to shame.”
May we have true grit in the power of the Holy Spirit to face and overcome the suffering of this world! Grace and peace to you all in the powerful Name of Jesus!