When Suffering Becomes Your Reality

October 31, 2023  - By Stephanie Armstrong

When Suffering Becomes Your Reality – an article from Well-Watered Women

Nothing prepared me for the shock of that day in the exam room and the sting of the words, “No heartbeat detected.” In that moment, my husband and I went from overjoyed to utter anguish. We thought our prayers had been answered after years of infertility. But just as quickly as God gave, I was unexpectedly grappling with the reality that he had taken away. My heart shattered in that exam room as I became a member of a club I never wanted to join. 

It hadn’t occurred to me that miscarriage might be part of my story. I felt empty, numb from the pain, and deeply disappointed with the Lord. Why would he allow this? Has he forgotten me in my wait? Am I not worthy of the gift of motherhood? Questions bombarded me day and night. The answers and encouragement I often gave others now felt hollow and cold, even if well-intentioned. I wasn’t questioning the existence of God, but somewhere deep in my soul, I was questioning his plan and his goodness. I was a pastor’s wife, I had given my life to serving God, and I loved him deeply. But I couldn’t shake the question: Why me?

Suffering is the Believer’s Reality

You’ve likely experienced a similar feeling of loss and despair. Have you prayed faithfully for something, only to have it abruptly taken away? Perhaps you’ve been treated unjustly or you’ve been betrayed by those who should have protected you. Have you also asked, Why me? The Bible is clear about the role of suffering in the life of the believer. Jesus reminds us that we will have trouble in this world (John 16:33). James tells us that trials will meet us and test our faith (James 1:2–3). Paul reminds us not to lose heart through the afflictions we face (2 Cor. 4:16–18). We will encounter pain and suffering on this side of heaven—it’s a guarantee. But God hasn’t left us unprepared! We have his Word to steady us and provide clarity and comfort amidst our confusion. 

The story of Joseph in Genesis 37–50 reads like a how-to manual in the school of suffering. Joseph was a beloved son who was mistreated at the hands of his own brothers and left to die before being sold as a slave (Gen. 37). He was taken to a foreign land where he became successful but was then sent to prison after being falsely accused (Gen. 39). After rising to the top in the prison, he was forgotten and overlooked, enduring thirteen years of humiliation and testing (Gen. 40). Surely he must have asked Why me? Yet, we have no mention of Joseph cursing God or even his brothers. Rather, Joseph patiently endured in each trial. He trusted God’s plan and waited on God’s will to be fulfilled in his sovereign timing. And he did all of this despite his ongoing distress. It seems only natural to ask how.

Suffering Became Jesus’ Reality

Genesis 39 repeatedly mentions God’s presence with Joseph, and this is intentional. He must have felt alone at times, but the truth is that the LORD was with him. He was sustaining, comforting, and even blessing Joseph in the midst of his affliction, not simply on the other side of it. I find it so encouraging that Joseph’s story has no cosmic miracles, just purposeful movements of God’s hand at work and his steadfast presence. 

Don’t we often want to be rescued out of our own pit? We long to have an instant change of circumstance when the way of God is more often a patient endurance, regardless of circumstance. Joseph could be confident in the plan of God, no matter how painful his suffering became, because he knew God was at work. 

In Joseph, we see a shadow of Jesus, the beloved Son of God and the suffering Savior. Although Jesus was willing, it was difficult and excruciating for him to endure the torture of the cross. Like Joseph, he was stripped naked, humiliated, and lowered into a pit of death. Scripture says he cried out with tears “to him who was able to save him from death” (Heb. 5:7), and he was heard, but not rescued. His Father’s plan was that he endure all the way to the cross in order to pay the penalty our sin demanded. Because Jesus was confident in the hope of what was to come through his death, he made himself obedient to it (Phil. 2:8). Through the example of Joseph and especially Jesus, we can know God always works for our good (Rom. 8:28). The cross reminds us of that truth.

We Can Endure Suffering With God’s Help

Sister, I don’t know what you face or what you’ve endured. But I do know God can use it for his glory and your good, even if it doesn’t feel good. No one wants to suffer. And yet, we are called to endure because we have a steadfast God who endures with us and the promise of a future hope waiting for us (1 Pet. 5:10–11).

When life feels shaky, find your footing in Scripture. Cling to Jesus in prayer and rest in confidence, knowing that no matter what this life brings, glory awaits the believer! I’m learning to trust Jesus more in my suffering by the example he set in his. May the same be true of you, friend. He is worthy of our trust and praise.

When Suffering Becomes Your Reality – an article from Well-Watered Women – quote

Meet the Author

Stephanie Armstrong lives in Waconia, Minnesota with her husband and four children. She serves alongside her husband as a pastor’s wife in addition to regularly teaching, speaking, and writing Bible studies for her local church. Her passion is for families to love God, to know his Word, and to effectively pass down a godly legacy from generation to generation. You can connect with her on Instagram @stepharmstrong.

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