In my world, until I was fourteen, hard things only happened to other people. People I didn’t know, except by proxy, who my family would pray for, and my parents would discuss sadly. Not my friends and family.
When My Life Fell Apart
I’m not talking about the everyday ups and downs life gives us. I’m talking about the heart-breaking tragedies so many of God’s children face. The deaths of family and friends, chronic illness, accidents, injuries, trauma, depression, anxiety.
The shock that burst my bubble came when I was fifteen, and I got sick.
My family and friends all knew something was wrong. I was thin, so thin many thought I had an eating disorder, but actually I was eating more than normal. I was constantly thirsty, and I didn’t have any energy.
My school grades, which were always high, plummeted. I quit all my extra-curricular activities, moving from my bed to the couch, and the couch to my bed. I had no life.
Three days before Christmas, 2018, I collapsed at a youth camp. I was rushed to the hospital for extreme dehydration, almost dying. There, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, an auto-immune disorder that would leave me dependent on expensive equipment and medicine the rest of my life.
After I recovered from the hospital, and my hair stopped falling out from the trauma, the first question that hit me was, “Why me? Why me, God?”
There was no answer at the time. There never is.
Suffering = Preparation
It was not God’s intention for us to suffer. God doesn’t enjoy our pain. Psalm 56:8 says, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.” He cares for us that much.
However, I fully believe that God can use our suffering for good. Christ, who suffered the most undeservedly of any, had his suffering transformed into the biggest blessing that has ever been given to mankind.
I was walking in town a few months ago when I came across a chalkboard on the sidewalk, decorated with white flowers. It read, “Remember, your hardships today will be a roadmap for someone else in the future.”Your suffering has the potential to help others. Or your suffering might help prepare you for your future. But your suffering is never wasted. Click To Tweet
This is clearly demonstrated in one of my favorite books, The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom. She starts the book by describing events in her childhood that God would later use to help get her through her experiences in the Holocaust.
In the end, she would save hundreds of lives, and provide mental healing to thousands. But she was prepared by suffering, both in her youth and her time in numerous concentration camps, to do the work God had for her. Later, she wrote, “Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.”
Romans 5:3-4 states that, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
Eventually, though the mountain you now face is draining your courage, you will stand on the top, full of hope, and stronger and better for your trials. You will find healing, if not in this world, then in the next.
Where Am I Today?
I would not be who I am today if I had not developed Type 1 Diabetes. Though that first year was painful, it was a year of growth, and I appreciate that now, if not at the time.
I learned to rely on God in ways I never thought possible. The Bible became a place of comfort instead of a chore. I had to grow up fast, learning self-discipline, self-control, and patience. I grew in maturity and empathy. I slowed down and took time to focus on the small things.
Now I help organize youth and children’s camps, and have a part time job working with children, some of whom have mental disabilities. Every day, I use many of the skills God taught me.
I believe he has more plans for me and you than what we can currently see. Plans only made possible through our suffering.