How could it be my time to suffer again? I had recently lost my mom to lung cancer and I still felt raw with emotion. "Really?" I thought. "Haven't I been through enough already?" I was at my breaking point.
Surely, this trial was the final straw. Why me Lord? Why me?
When I became a baptized disciple twenty-three years ago, I assumed that my life would miraculously change for the better. My life before Christ was full of anger, abuse, and fear. That baggage and that illusion came right into God's kingdom with me. I had not dealt with all of my emotions; I became one of those women who saw everything through rose-colored glasses. Singer-songwriter Dolly Parton could have written this lyric with me in mind saying, "I beg your pardon. I never promised you a rose garden." What came next was a startling realization. No one promised me anything but God's salvation through Jesus Christ's sacrifice.
Up until that point, my life journey had been a rollercoaster of ups and downs. I was blessed with a godly marriage. My husband and I saw God glorified in the baptism of our eldest daughter in the first year of our marriage. We saw many souls come to Christ. Our eldest son became a disciple too. I graduated with a Master's degree and began to teach college.
However, prior to my marriage, my life had many health struggles; I was seriously ill many times. I had more surgeries than I can count. When my youngest sister died of a massive heart attack a few days before Christmas, I had no tools to process my grief. My emotions were trapped deep inside me. I suffered.
I remember sitting in the hospital room with my mother reading James 1:2-4, our Lord says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." I could find no joy in watching my mother suffer and die. But I began to understand that my faith was being tested and the longer I waited it out, God would help me to be mature. My faith in our God grew so much during that time because I began to trust that he would finish his work in me. I knew I needed to persevere in my faith.
However, I was surprised how quickly things changed after my mom died. I thought I knew a lot about grief and I wanted to help others. Yet, receiving my own diagnosis cast me into a dark and deep despair. I succumbed to every negative emotion I felt: anger, fear, pride, and betrayal. I had trouble reading my bible or praying. I literally got caught up in this perpetual cycle where I expended all my energy trying to figure out why I was suffering and what was the purpose or lesson behind my suffering.
Then, I remembered the suffering of Jesus Christ whose sole purpose was to ensure my salvation. God has many lessons for me. God chose me and called me to be like Jesus. Therefore, why would I expect to skip the suffering? Suffering has strengthened my faith and the faith of those around me as I share my victories with them. My physical body is now healed as well as my spiritual body. Ultimately, suffering brought about the maturity that I lacked and it keeps drawing me closer to God.