It’s not often that I tell the story of my first real encounter with suffering. Mainly because it’s painful and I feel as if I have to relive my grief over again every time I tell it, however, it’s been on my mind a lot the past few weeks and part of me feels like it’ll be therapeutic to share, or maybe it’s meant to help someone who is currently enduring a season of loss, grief or suffering.
……I was 14, and I had the most joyful life. My youth group meant the world to me, and there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t wish I was at church. I loved it that much. I loved them that much.
My youth pastor was someone I greatly admired. His faith seemed so genuine and strong, and I hoped to have a faith much similar. To save a lot of downright painful details, I’ll just tell you that he was eventually arrested for having an inappropriate relationship with another member of the youth group.
For anyone, that situation is devastating. For a 14 year old, that’s earth shattering.
I felt a whole range of emotion after that. Betrayal. Anger. Confusion. Doubt.
I questioned my faith, people in ministry, people in leadership, and just people in general. My trust had been broken, and I felt helpless as I watched the people I loved so dearly endure so much pain. I saw how people handled their grief so differently. Some stuck it out while others walked away. I wanted to be more like the first.
As the years have passed since, I continually realize new things that experience taught me. And I continually celebrate the time so very close to God that it allowed me to have.
I know celebration and suffering don’t fit well together. Seasons of suffering are hard, there’s nothing fun or enjoyable about them, and most of the time we wait anxiously for them to be over, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that I grow more into the person God wants me to be during seasons of pain rather than seasons of joy. I praise God for both seasons because no matter what He is with me, and He is at work for my good.
The moment that started, my first season of suffering, was a moment that has shaped me to this day. That was the moment that I decided I’d never back down from hard things, I’d never leave hurt people behind, and I’d never let the devil have the satisfaction of seeing me turn away from God because I was angry with my pain. I have carried that season with me throughout my life and through other painful experiences. Previous suffering will push me through future suffering, because God was faithful then and He’ll be faithful again. So the next time you find yourself facing grief, walk towards all your fear, uncertainty, and pain with gratitude, knowing that joy and a better version of yourself wait for you on the other side.