My life looks far different than what I imagined if you would have asked me a year ago. I pictured a growing belly or newborn, good health, and being home full-time.
I never imagined we’d be heading into two months of waiting for background checks to clear for an adoption. Or that I’d be frequenting the chiropractor weekly and physical therapy twice a week. Or that I’d be facing herniated disks, a limited diet to try to manage symptoms from an autoimmune disease, and impending surgery. This cross I’m bearing—it isn’t what I imagined.
Somewhere along the line I started to believe that I could choose what my cross looked like. I thought I had control over what type of suffering I experienced, and when. I imagined that I would sacrifice specific things for God, surrendering parts of my life to him that I thought would be most convenient or look the most holy.
But that’s not how suffering works. We don’t get to choose the why or when or how of our suffering.
We don’t get to choose our suffering, but that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t work through it.
We may not be able to control our suffering, but what we can control is how we respond to it, even, or maybe especially, when it’s different from what we expected. Even when our emotions feel out of our control, we can choose to ask God to help us make sense of them. We can choose to submit the confusing barrage of feelings to our heavenly Father. We can choose to listen to His truth over lies.
I am so often tempted to respond to suffering with despair, anger, or fear. Maybe you can relate? Whether it’s unexplained tears, or increased frustration, or an aching loneliness, suffering can bring out some really hard things. It exposes what’s in our hearts—it exposes our sin.
And if there’s one thing I know in all of this, it’s that I want to suffer well. I want to walk through trials with my eyes (no matter how tear-filled) focused on my Savior. I want what is exposed to be deeper trust in Him, rather than the ugliness that so often spills out. So I ask Him for extra grace. I search His Word for truth to cling to. I fall on my face in worship, even when all I want to do is eat chocolate and escape in a TV show (which let’s be real, I do plenty of).
I’d love to hear your thoughts on suffering well. I’d love to hear the scripture and songs and books that have helped you think about this and wade through it. Let’s figure this out together, friends.
Love, Team Douglas