Have you ever looked back over a hard season of life and thought, “man, that was so difficult, but so good for me?” I suppose John Mellencamp was right when he sang, “Hurts so good.” The hurts we face can be used for our good. If you are like me, walking into a challenging time, my shoulders tighten, my fists clench and my heart races.
Afflictions feel anything but good. Yet, they are used for our good.
Will we ever say that the hurt is good in the middle of the battle? When the war is raging all around us? Probably not. However, on the other side of affliction we take a rearview mirror approach and can conceive how this catastrophic event – though we would not have ever asked for life to go that way – has changed us.
On the other side of affliction (that which has caused us pain or suffering), if we allow it God can use the hurt to draw us closer to him. The critical key, I believe, is we have to be open to him using the hurt for our good.
What does the other side of affliction look like practically? Well, for me it started with a cry out to God, begging him to take the heaviness of my heart, take the hurts and help me to see them through the lens he uses. The lens that shaded with eternal significance and complete restoration and healing.
The other side of affliction for me has looked like beginning the process of healing. I say beginning because healing in my experience is not a one and done encounter, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. It is a day by day, month by month and sometimes year by year acceptance of God’s healing available to me.
King David understood the blessing that can come through an affliction – even those that are self imposed because of the choices we have made. In Psalm 119:67 he says, “Before you made me suffer, I used to wander off, but now I hold on to your word.” (GWT)
If our suffering produces the grit, the desire to cling tight to the precepts of God, is the suffering worth it? I would say, “yes!”
David also says in Psalm 119:71, “My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.”
This perspective is found on the other side of the affliction and on a rare occasion during the suffering. And even the sheer, basic understanding of it is hard to understand before a tragic event, a great loss, a pain so deep it shatters the heart.
I think we often do not want to admit that what is most often good for us are the things which cost us the most, that require the most surrender and sacrifice, the things that well… hurt. The gifts and blessings that come with ease don’t challenge us to live different, love different and cleave to the cross with deeper affections.
But there is something about suffering. There is something about pain. There is something intrinsic in the nature of suffering that leads us to the foot of the cross on our journey to healing, to answers and to hope. Jesus, we know, was a man well acquainted with sorrow. No greater suffering has there ever been than the weight of our sin that he carried on the cross.
And even the worst of all suffering that could ever be imagined God used for our good. God used Christ’s suffering in order to give us the chance to be connected in relationship with him – the very thing he made us for.
Perhaps it is also true in your life, the suffering you have walked through has revealed the very thing you were created for? Without a doubt what we experience in this life, the hardest of days, stir within us the fervor to find healing. The fervor for restoration. The hunger for wrongs to be righted. The suffering produces a fight in us, but it also produces tenderness.
The dictionary defines tenderness as, “sensitivity to pain”. I believe this is true. On the other side of affliction we come out tenderized with a heightened sensitivity to the pain around us. When someone we know is walking through a similar trial, our heart breaks all over again because we carry the impressions of our own suffering.
People around you today may not understand or be tender toward the suffering you are walking through. But it was interesting to me what David went on to say in Psalm 119:74 (GWT), “Those who fear you will see me and rejoice, because my hope is based on your word.”
Even though those around you may not get what you are walking through or the extent of your suffering, what they can do is marvel, be amazed and rejoice as you choose, like David, to put your hope in God’s word.” As you remember his promises, and stand firm on the foundation of the truth of scripture those around you will rejoice.
God’s word, his truth will give you everything you need to walk on through to the other side of affliction. What affliction are you facing? What pain and suffering are you caught in the middle of right now? Do you believe that no matter how dark the days get that God will bring good from them? What suffering have you walked through that maybe you have not yet allowed God to heal, to restore, to use for your growth and cleaving to him?
My prayer for you this week is that no matter what this week, this month, this year may bring that you and I together can face affliction with “from the otherside” outlook. May we trust God amid the challenges, tribulations and trials that he can and will work all of things out for His glory and for our ultimate good. To God be the glory.
Meredith Andrews is one of my most favorite worship leaders. She has a song called, Deeper. I am sharing this link with you and pray it blesses you. The chorus says, “Every valley made me lift my eyes up. Every burden only made me stronger. Every sorrow only made Your joy go deeper and deeper, deeper, and deeper.”