Look, suffering is inevitable. No one gets a free pass. The fact of the matter is that you are either coming out of a storm or headed into another. It’s just a matter of time.
In this life, the only way to avoid suffering is to die.
What you want to do is get ready now, so you will have a proper biblical foundation and can properly process and react as these challenges come into your life.
As Randy Alcorn says in his book If God is Good, “Most of us don’t give focused thought to evil and suffering until we experience them. This forces us to formulate perspective on the fly, at a time when our thinking is muddled and we’re exhausted and consumed by pressing issues. People who have ‘been there’ will attest that it’s far better to think through suffering in advance.”
In other words, be prepared ahead of time!
Paul reminds us that we are to “let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts, and make you wise. Use his words to teach and counsel each other” (Colossians 3:16). But we would rather not do that, because the topic of suffering is difficult and uncomfortable.
Suffering is one of those things we all want to avoid if at all possible. If you are flying and you see a storm, you try to fly around it, not into it. But here’s the reality: sometimes you simply cannot do that. Your life can be going reasonably well one moment, and then it changes in a flash. That certainly happened for our family.
Here is one of the “good things” that come out of crisis and suffering. You turn to God with a dependence like you have never had before, like a child running to his mom or dad and burying his face in their shoulder.
And do you know what? God is there waiting for you with the strength, peace, and love you need. Not necessarily with all the answers you may want, but He is there.
One of the things you “treasure” in suffering is knowing God’s presence. Your faith begins to grow stronger. Faith does not grow through ease and comfort. It grows through challenge, conflict, and difficulty. Faith is like a muscle in that it gets stronger through use, not neglect. If you do not use your muscle, it can atrophy.
We have a choice in life—use it or lose it!
The Bible reminds us, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (James 1:2–4 MSG).
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!