Sometimes it’s excruciating to get on the same page with God. There are particular areas of life in which many of us just cannot wrap our heads around His divine perspective. Suffering, for example.
God seems okay with suffering. In fact, He tells us (over and over) to rejoice in our pain and trials (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4; I Peter 4:12-13)! Rejoice. Don’t just grit your teeth and bear it; be joyful through it.
Honestly now, we don’t like that very much. But let’s look at why God teaches us that suffering is good.
More than that, 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. Romans 5:3-5
In James 1, He tells us that trials are tests of our faith that contribute to our sanctification, our becoming more like Christ.
None of this knowledge takes away the pain. None of it means you can’t be sad or hurt or feel the weight of tragedy. It means there is always incredible hope in suffering because it is a vital part of growth. When life is difficult, look for the growth. Be willing to grow. Pray that you could be joyful about the fact that God is working in you. The fruit will come in His time. I’ve seen it repeatedly in my own life. His Word will prove true.
Honestly, I never got the whole “be present” mantra until I had a baby. Then, I would find myself rocking her small, warm body over and over while feeling anxious that I couldn’t be in the other room doing something else. I would look at her sweet face, changing nearly before my eyes. How could I want to miss that? How could I want to be anywhere else?
I realized it was a constant pattern in my day–physically doing one thing and my mind working on the next thing.
It’s a difficult habit to break in our multi-tasking, go-go-go society. Making efforts against this tendency has been well worth it for me, though. It has a noticeable effect on my mood–reducing frustration, keeping stress in check. Especially when I’m interacting with my daughter, I try to be present. Mind on her. Happy because she’s happy. Meeting whatever need she has at that moment. What is next is just that–next.
There are precious slivers of time we overlook each day. We might stop just long enough to realize we’re smiling, but it’s gone with the next annoyance. If we’re not careful, we simply miss so much.
I’ve found that contentment grows not out of the larger-than-life moments but rather the easily overlooked moments. Maybe we breeze by them because we think it is our right to experience them–that we deserve them–but that’s just not true. Not everyone is privileged to hear their child’s laughter (and screeching). Not everyone has a hot cup of coffee each morning. Not everyone falls into a soft bed at the end of the day.
When discontent begins to fester, stop. Stop and remember one good moment from your day. Remember one tiny, normal moment you took for granted.