real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

the gift of suffering


Angel of Grief, 1894 by William Wetmore Story, Protestant Cemetery, Rome

A much loved and longed for baby is taken during a 5th month of pregnancy. Why? A bright, winsome, and talented young man with a very promising future, in the twinkling of an eye, is taken from this world in a tragic car accident. Why? A young woman who follows hard after the Lord, who so desperately wants to rebuild a relationship with parents who so terribly and horribly abused her, has been deemed worthless by them. Why? The young mom battles depression every single day and loses her husband and children in the process. Why? In commenting on my request for prayer for the family who lost their son in the accident yesterday, one Facebook friend wrote “It is so hard to see how God is glorified in that situation.”

This week I have been preparing to speak at a women’s luncheon and the scripture passage that the committee chose for the day was from Luke 12:48: “to whom much is given, much will be required.” It has taken me weeks to wrap my arms around that verse, to chew on it and to grasp what the Lord would have me share, to be able to move beyond the worship of a God who has so graciously provided so very much, so I could come up with something worth saying!

I began making a list of all the things the Lord has given to me, an infinite list to be certain. There are the gifts of common grace, those things that the Lord provides for all of us. And there is the gift of salvation, the most glorious gift of all. But tucked inside all these other gifts and sometimes the gift we least want but the gift we most need, is the gift of suffering. Here are some of the things I have learned about suffering in the past few weeks:

Suffering is a gift because it reminds us of what Jesus endured and Scripture promises us that if we are to be like Him, we must suffer with him. In fact, 1 Peter 4:13 tells us that we are to rejoice when we experience suffering because God’s glory is revealed through it.

Suffering also bears witness to the sovereignty of God. Through our suffering we have a glimpse of God’s divine plan for our lives. We can come to the place of rest in Him because we know He has no plan B for us, only a plan A that He is working out of His good pleasure for His own glory and He has graciously allowed us to be a part of that plan!

Suffering reminds that God alone is our refuge, a very present help in time of need and that we are to cry out to Him. Psalm 73:25-26 describes how we are to respond: “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart fail: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.”

Suffering shows us how weak and needy we truly are and how able and apt God truly is
. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 we read “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Suffering also provides us with the opportunity to minister to others
. In the classic story Pilgrim’s Progress, the main character, Christian, came upon a murky, slimy bog and he couldn’t see see the bottom of that pit or anything that was in it. Inadvertently, Christian stumbled off the path and into the pit that was named the Slough of Despond. He wallowed around, trying to get out of the mess but he carried a burden on his back and the weight of it caused him to begin to sink, further and further down. He could not see any way out when suddenly he heard a voice. It was a man named Help who called out to him, saying “just go to the steps, go to the steps and climb out.” But Christian was not able to get out until Help showed him where those steps were.

Each of us has had done some time in the Slough of Despond. We have each had our own burdens that have kept us from rising above the miry pit. How many of us have needed the encouragement or the kind word from the friend who had already been in the pit and who knew where the steps were located? How often have we needed someone to show us how to get rid of those burdens that only push us down, lower and lower into despair? Those of us who are able to help someone out of the pit, learned the location of those steps through our own suffering.

Finally, suffering is a gift because it produces the true joy of the Lord in our lives. The other day I read this wonderful quote from a young woman who had been severely and horribly abused by her parents while she grew up. “At last I know what it is to have joy–not the pop-Christian-culture concept of “joy in my heart” but a deep, resonating element of serenity that has been shaped by sorrow and refined by the hand of God, a peace that passes all understanding and is a direct gift from my Lord.”

Today, I pray that those who are experiencing suffering will be encouraged by the Word of God and that those who have been there will be used to help others by His grace and for His glory alone.



  Marla wrote @

I won’t be there on Saturday….but you’ll be in my prayers. I know it will be a treat to hear you, my friend!

  Hillary wrote @

Karen, this is truly beautiful.

  Cindy K wrote @

“There’s Not A Crown Without A Cross” Lyrics
by Michael English | from the album Hope

To every life there comes the question of the heart
For extraordinary pain
Struggle greets you on the mountains that you climb
A war within the soul – for every step you gain

Remember when the winds of sorrow strike you down
And leave you hopeless and afraid
The proof of battle is the wounds that you will bear
The scars that build you strong for the journey that you make

There’s not a victory without a fight
There’s not a sunrise without a night
There’s not a purchase without a cost
There’s not a crown without a cross

No greater anguish ever came upon a man
Than when the Son of Glory died
The sins of all of us were nails that pierced His hands
And act of sacrifice – the pain within the price

His crown was fashioned from his suffering and travail
Shone like the Son when He arose
He showed us triumph even when all hope was lost
He carried out a plan so that every man would know

God will guide you when you cling to His hand
Strength will find you when you learn how to stand
To persevere to the end

There’s not a victory without a fight
There’s not a sunrise without a night
There’s not a purchase without a cost
There’s not a crown without a cross

  thatmom wrote @

Marla, I will miss you! We will have to get together one of these days to catch up.

  Rebecca wrote @

If only you knew how timely your post is for me, as I am being crushed by the amount of suffering that is being required of me. I can already testify to the points that you made in your post & how they are coming to fruition in my own life. Thank you for sharing on a sometimes difficult to understand topic.


  thatmom wrote @

Rebecca, my heart goes out to you and your family this morning. When our son and his wife lost their little one at 5 months, there were no words beyond the Word of God that could minister to us. I can remember as my son carried the small casket at the cemetery, thinking that the only thing I could have given to him to prepare him for that moment was the power of God’s Word and all those years of Scripture memory came back to me. I know it is difficult to “see through the veil” now, but I believe the Lord will use this experience in the lives of your other children to teach them about these things, too. I will be praying for you, dear sister.

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