All this God does so that through the very experience that is so painful and distressing to me, I will be of greater use to others.
~Streams in the Desert~
We all know people who’ve suffered a particular hardship, either the result of consequences for disobedience or things like natural disasters.
Most recent among them, #hurricaneflorence
Whatever the cause of someone’s difficulty, he/she’s the one I gravitate toward when his/her same suffering comes knocking on my front door (or, as it might seem, beats the door down and forces its way inside).
Choosing to embrace – with thanksgiving – a particular hardship, receiving it from God as a sacred trust, has not been my default response. The flesh takes over, begins to wrestle and kick and wail.
But it’s a spiritual game changer once I realize God is making me of greater use to someone else who’s suffering something similar to what I have experienced and that I’m being made into one who really “gets it”.
Being enrolled in the University of Greater Use (yes, imaginary…no need to google this one) qualifies me to enter into the mess of another’s circumstances with authentic empathy.
At this level of understanding, there’ll be nothing of mere tongue clucks inside a pitiful frown and sorry little head shakes which are best saved for someone who can’t find the keys to his/her new, fire-engine red Ferrari.
I’ll have become of far greater use than that.
Depending on which field of study God has chosen for me in this fine institution, I’ll be able to testify how Christ redeemed me from a similar pit (Psalm 103:4a), to offer hope for a weary soul, if only to sit quiet and tug tissues from a box to dry tears.
After all, I’m not here on this planet for me and God to just hang out together until He makes all things new. (Admit it. Wouldn’t this be awesome?) With the slightest glance away from the busyness of my day, I realize, once again, I share space on this celestial ocean blue pearl with billions of other people.
Might there be one among them who needs to know I’m of great value to help in their weakness, that I’m someone who ‘gets it’?
One who might not be having a good day, despite the robotic, albeit kind, ‘Have a good day’ uttered by the WalMart cashier?
Conversely, I need to know they are of greater use to me.
Otherwise, a person risks withdrawal and could succumb to the lie that no one else could possibly understand what’s it’s like to suffer… (fill in the blank).
Lie. Lie. Lie.
Did I mention that was a lie?
But even if it were that God chose to hand out hardships and temptations only to me, He is fully able to sympathize with my weaknesses and difficulties because He’s suffered all of them, most of which I’ll never face.
Even if it were that God chose to hand out hardships and temptations only to me, He is fully able to sympathize with my weaknesses and difficulties because He’s suffered all of them, most of which I’ll never face. Hebrews 4:15
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. Hebrews 4:15
As you drag or dance your way into the weekend, who in your life needs to know they’re not alone in their suffering today?
How has God increased your usefulness to others through the suffering you’ve endured?