Suffering is characterized by lost hope, internal defeat, and enduring pain.
In the midst of suffering, we don’t tend to see positive attributes. However, by examining the benefits that can come from it, we find ways to make our experiences more bearable and turn to Christ for support.
Joni Eareckson Tada—a Christian author and the founder of Joni and Friends International Disability Center—knows more about suffering than most. At 17, she experienced a diving accident that left her a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. She writes about her experiences, how to process suffering alongside God’s plan, and how to live joyfully despite your circumstances.
Here are four benefits of suffering adapted from Tada’s book, A Place of Healing:
1. Suffering reminds us where our true strength lies.
When our physical strength is taken, we need to find our nonphysical strengths. Tada says, “We are all weak, all needy, whether we like to admit it or not. And what is it that we need? We need each other in the body of Christ. It just happens the weaknesses of some people . . . are more evident.” Find your strengths and use them to complement others’ weaknesses.
2. Suffering restores a lost beauty in Christ.
When we suffer, we can be in true awe of the simplistic, stripped-down beauty we so often overlook. After we’re emptied and emotionally drained, we can be filled back up by the Holy Spirit and find internal beauty we’d been missing. Tada says, “People may find themselves seeing something in you—some grace or quality of life—they had never seen before, or hadn’t seen for years and years.”
3. Suffering can heighten our thirst for Christ.
Suffering can cause us to settle on things that aren’t Christ—we go for what’s second-best, which God considers a sin. We turn to worldly satisfaction when Christ is right in front of us. When we are refreshed by him, we realize that earthly pleasures aren’t as fulfilling, and our desire for Christ is strengthened.
4. Suffering can increase our fruitfulness.
Tada uses the example of an orchard to describe how wounds can bear positive outcomes: to graft a branch onto an apple tree, both the branch and the bark must be damaged, but later on, those same branches will grow blossoms and fruit. From those initial wounds, something even greater is produced in the long run.
- A Place of Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada
- God Can’t Sleep by Palmer Chinchen
- Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free by Tullian Tchividjian
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Suffering is characterized by lost hope, internal defeat, and enduring pain. In the midst of suffering, we don’t tend to see positive attributes. However, by examining the benefits that can come from it, we find ways to make our experiences more bearable and turn to Christ for support. Joni Eareckson Tada—a Christian author and the founder […]