Is It Possible to Suffer Well?

Is It Possible to Suffer Well?

You could experience a baker’s dozen of serious issues layered one on top of another. Financial pressures. Health pressures. Relationship pressures. Spiritual warfare pressures. The pressure of unthinkable grief or cruel pain. It will not crush you if you believe Christ is in it. All that matters is knowing Jesus is walking in the fiery furnace with you. The pain may feel white-hot, but be encouraged—his “peace like a river” is able to quench every anxiety and fear.

It Is Well

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well with my soul!
It is well with my soul;
It is well, it is well with my soul!

—Horatio Spafford (1876)

He Is Enough

When Paul spoke of being hard-pressed on every side, he wasn’t speaking lightly. He wasn’t saying, Whew, things were a little tough for a while. He was describing pain that was so oppressive that he “despaired of life itself ” (2 Cor. 1:8). How in the same sentence can Paul be pressed in like that, yet not be crushed? Nancy Severns knows the answer. She has been bedridden for five years with pain from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a debilitating disorder that affects her entire body, inside and out—her ribs even slip out of place! When all feels torturous, Nancy slowly inhales and calmly acknowledges the pain. She then enters it much like the three Hebrews entering Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace. There in the middle of hellish, white-hot agony, she finds the Son of God. And she feels his protective embrace.

I do the same thing. When the fangs of pain sink into my hips and lower back, it’s a signal to begin deep breathing. I then walk into the pain and hold it near me, even have a conversation with it. I don’t fret and say, This is killing me, or, I can’t stand this, or Oh, no, not again! Words like that are fraught with anxiety, and we all know that fear only exacerbates the problem. Instead, like Nancy, I serenely acknowledge the pain and allow it to press me in on all sides, and then I take one more step of faith.

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