By Jacqui Jacoby
We’ve all faced trials. Deaths of loved ones, divorces, breakups, failures, and other hardships. This past semester, I went through a tough breakup. At the time, I was feeling a lot of pain, and I wondered why it had to hurt so much. Now, a few months removed from all of this, I have a lot of clarity. Some hardships are more painful than others, but I believe that hardships can be gifts from God, and here’s why:
Pain breeds empathy.
Recently, a few of my close friends have been going through struggles similar to the ones I faced a few months ago. Because I can understand their pain, I’m able to love them better.
There was a time this past semester when my roommate crawled into bed with me while I cried on her shoulder. She got into the trenches with me and biblically lead me toward Christ while I was mourning. Other great friends brought me chocolate and let me cry to them in public (on multiple occasions). Because of their Christ-like love, I was able to heal and learn to love others in the same way.
My pain had a purpose, and yours does, too.
If you’re going through something painful right now, I challenge you to thank God for your hardship. Literally, thank Him. He is maturing you in ways that you might not understand. This spiritual maturity makes you better able to grow God’s kingdom on earth.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), a man is robbed, beat up, and left for dead. Three men pass by the suffering man, but only one of these men – the good Samaritan – helps him. Jesus specifically says that this Samaritan “took pity on him.”
This story has become a universal example of the way that Christians are expected to treat others. Although we don’t know the backstory of the Samaritan’s life, I can’t help but wonder if he would have acted the same if he hadn’t also been through hardships. What if he couldn’t understand this man’s pain, so he walked on like the other two men did? Being able to understand and empathize with others’ pain is a gift from God.
God loves us so much that He doesn’t let our pain go to waste – He uses it to make us look more like Him. The book of James explains the beauty of suffering perfectly:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4