Sometimes denial is easier than reality.
The first Christmas after Gwen’s death I recall telling friends and family that I was fine whenever they asked how I was doing. Then I’d offer a reassuring smile. I even told myself I was fine because it was easier than dealing with the truth—that I felt like the best part of me was gone forever.
In our suffering we are being formed—we are learning—if we allow God to work in our lives. That’s easier said than done, but expected nonetheless.
Romans 5:3-5 states:
“. . . but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Rejoicing in suffering is foreign to those who would rather follow the heresy of Joel Osteen than the truths of God. But if we believe in Scripture—if we believe what Christ said, we are to rejoice in suffering because of the outcome. God is continuously molding and shaping us in His image to use us for His Glory—to use us to spread His Gospel.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, Paul wrote,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
We are being trained by God to receive comfort in affliction so that we can provide comfort to others—comfort from God. But it’s more than that. According to these verses we are afflicted for the comfort and salvation of others.
God always has a plan, and nothing has ever taken Him by surprise. Every moment of suffering we experience is to benefit others—even to the point of salvation.
If you’ve lost someone or seen tragedy and these holidays are difficult for you, take heart—God is at work to accomplish great things. If He uses your suffering to lead one person to Him, isn’t it worth it. It was to Gwen . . . she told me so.
She was my girl.