Don't Waste Your Suffering

  • Feb. 7, 2014
  • #8290

We can draw closer to God by learning to trust him in our small hardships and problems.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and welcome to "Joni and Friends".

Not long ago I received an email from Nancy who had a confession to make. She had debated whether or not to write me about this problem, but finally decided she had to. In her email, Nancy wrote “Joni, I have always admired you from a distance. I’ve admired your faith in God and your love for His word. And in the last year or so, I too have found myself asking the Lord to draw me closer to Him—‘Close like Joni is to you, Lord’ I would pray. But then, I get this nervous fear. I’m afraid that God might allow something awful to happen to me or my family (just like He allowed your accident and resulting paralysis). Honestly, Joni, I just don’t think I could bear it, if that happened to me. I feel guilty for these feelings – because on one hand I want a closer walk with Christ; yet on the other hand, I don’t want the suffering that often accompanies that close walk. So Joni, do you have any advice for me?”

I really thank Nancy for her honesty. And to tell you the truth, over the years I’ve had many people – many good Christians – say the exact same thing to me. In fact, I resonate with Nancy. Years ago, I remember looking at the life of the apostle Paul and how incredibly close he was to the Lord. As a young Christian, I wanted his faith, his conviction, his boldness, and his devotion to Jesus, yet this same man suffered floggings and shipwrecks, hunger, beatings, and persecution – you name it! And all those things were used in the Lord to draw Paul closer to His side.

So I identify with Nancy. But here’s what I told her. Sure, God uses suffering to push us into His Word; or push us onto our knees in prayer; or push us closer into His arms. Nancy, why wait around to be pushed? Why wait for some awful thing to happen to wake you up out of your spiritual slumber? You don’t need a broken neck to draw you closer to Jesus; you don’t need persecution or shipwrecks or floggings. No, you can draw closer to Christ right now with the hardships you’re already facing: the small irritations and little problems that happen to you every day (but you never learn from because you don’t want to sweat the small stuff; no, you’d rather complain; you’d rather grumble. You don’t allow these things to strengthen your faith or your trust in God or your confidence in His Word. And so, such everyday suffering goes wasted.) And what does God then do? He sees our stubborn indifference and so brings on greater hardship, greater suffering. O friend, why go through that? Don’t waste the suffering you’re going through right now – learn from it. If Jesus learned obedience to the things which He suffered, as it says of him in Hebrews, then you can too — even with, no, especially with the small irritations and problems you face every day.

Oh, friend, if we can hang onto God while we’re in the middle of heartache or hurt, no matter how big or small, nothing, nothing demonstrates faith, trust, and confidence more than that. And it gives God such glory. He is shown to be a God of supreme and massive worth when we think He’s important enough to love and obey despite the hardships. Don’t wait around for God to push you deeper into the fellowship of sharing in Christ’s sufferings – learn from your current problems now. And like Nancy, you will be well on your way to getting rid of those fears and drawing closer to the Lord. Hey, friend, I talk about this in my booklet “Breaking the Bonds of Fear” and I’d love to send you a copy, really I would. Just go to my radio page today at because you don’t have to break your neck to draw close to God.

© Joni and Friends


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