Suffering is not a fun topic to talk about, and yet, none of us are immune. Each of us suffer throughout life in various ways. Some of us suffer in health, some in relationships, some in our career. Some of us financially. The areas are endless.
Insecurities, fears, struggles.
Weaknesses threaten to make us feel insecure.
Insults threaten to make us offended.
Hardships threaten to take our joy.
Persecution makes us want to fight back.
Difficulties make us want to give up.
But I love what the Apostle Paul says about his own adversity. In 2 Corinthians 12:10, he writes, “I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Who does that?
Paul set the bar high. Is what he declares even possible?
I don’t think Paul was making up poetic psalms that just sounded faith-filled to tickle our ears. I think He experienced God’s power in the middle of his pain. I don’t believe he could have penned such a declaration unless he experienced firsthand the strength that was on the other side of his hardships.
On the other side of his problem he saw God’s glory.
I believe you can, too.
But you have to press through. You can’t avoid pain. You’ll only face it again. You can’t deny pain. Denial is a poison that clouds judgment. You can’t go around pain.
You have to go through pain.
It’s only when we press through the pain that we get to see the glory on the other side.
Glory is the by-product of pain. It’s the prize we get for enduring the hardship. It’s the reward for our struggle.
But so often we quit in the middle.
The struggle is too much to bear. The fight is too hard. The battle is too much.
So we give.
Just before the victory.
But check out the heroes in the Bible who saw God’s glory: Moses, Stephen, Peter, James and John. They all had endured tremendous suffering and yet in the midst of their suffering, they had a personal encounter with God’s power. They were eyewitnesses to God’s majesty.
And the majesty was so spectacular it made them forget the pain.
Like a mother in childbirth forgets the pain when she sees the glory—the majesty of her child.
These heroes of faith didn’t bear children, but they saw the glory and majesty of the Creator.
2 Peter 1:16 says, “We didn’t follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses to his majesty.”
When you are an eyewitness to His glory, pain losses its power.
When majesty is revealed, when glory is exposed, it completely overshadows suffering.
That’s why Peter could say in 1 Peter 4:13 that we could be overjoyed in the midst of suffering. That’s why Paul could say, “I consider our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
When you get to the other side of your pain and see the glory, it all makes sense. I didn’t understand this until I was an eyewitness myself.
The glory—the Presence of God and His overwhelming joy that God revealed to me the day after my two-year-old son Jake died in a car wreck completely overshadowed the pain I felt from his loss.
People don’t know what to say to me when they find out I’ve lost a son, so most of the time their response is something like, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine.”
But then sometimes it gets awkward. Many follow up with a statement that has often made me cringe. “The death of a child is something you’ll never get over.”
It sounds comforting in a pseudo sort of way, but is that what God’s word says? The pain never ends. Jesus bore it all, but not that.
Now don’t get me wrong, death is such an uncomfortable subject for most people and I know it’s their way of trying to console me, but the suggestion is that I’ll always have a hole in my heart. That’s not what the Word says. And that’s not what my eyewitness encounter was like.
The morning after the car accident, I woke up in the hospital room. I had spent the night with my other son, Garrett, who was also in the car wreck.
But when I began to awaken that morning, instead of waking up to devastation, I woke up to the most incredible presence I had ever felt in my life.
I woke up to God’s glory.
God offered His glory in exchange for my pain. He took my ashes and turned then into joy. He took my mourning and offered me gladness.
I know it makes no sense. It’s really not something you can understand unless you’ve experienced it yourself. But I hope it gives you hope.
Your pain is not in vain. God wants you to trade in your sorrows.
But that means you have to give them up.
He offers His glory, but we have to relinquish our pain.
Glory and pain cannot coexist, but yet, the choice is ours. We can keep the pain and grow bitter or allow him to reveal his glory in us and be better.
Yes, I still remember my loss, but I’ve chosen to accept His glory. I can’t live without it. Paul said this to us in Romans 8:18: “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.”
What about you? Will you relinquish your pain? Will you allow Him to reveal His glory in you? I promise you, He is faithful. I know because…
I am an eyewitness.