Each family will go through seasons of challenge and suffering in the course of a lifetime. As a family, we recently experienced one of those times. In the end, God showed up and pointed the situation in a new direction, but at the start we felt overwhelmed.
As I began to navigate the early moments of our challenging situation, I felt a need to put all my normal activities on hold until the crisis was over. I began to cancel certain events and was about to cancel one final appointment on my list, something I really like to do under normal circumstances. As I began to cancel the appointment, the Lord asked me a question, “Can’t I bless you in your suffering?”
The question actually startled me. I had become focused on the painful event we were experiencing and had assumed a waiting posture until it could be resolved. Any thought of personal blessing or gain in the middle of the suffering felt like it would have been out of the question.
Somewhere in my mind, I had allowed a false way of thinking to enter my thoughts. This false thinking said the blessings of God are reserved only for those times outside our times of suffering. I felt I had to endure this painful situation until the end before it would be appropriate for a blessing to come my way. As the Lord’s question rang in my ears, I realized I had been living with a limited image of God’s goodness in times of suffering.
We are in a moment of Church history where God is planning to arrive in our places of suffering with blessings in His hand and drop those blessings into our lives in unexpected ways. As He releases these gifts, He is blessing us as a father would bless a child who is experiencing sadness or sorrow. But there is something more He is going after. God is going after our limited belief in His goodness. He is going after pious sounding misconceptions that blind us to His heart. He is going after terminal thought patterns that releases sorrow instead of joy.
When the Lord asked me the question – “Can’t I bless you in your suffering?” – my response was, “Yes, Lord you can, but don’t I need to get through this first?”
My question to His question revealed a second point of healing God wanted me to experience. Many of us think we must endure the full length of suffering before God is willing show up with His goodness and provision. This misunderstanding comes from a mindset that says God teaches us more in seasons of suffering than in times of blessing. God is free to teach us in any way He desires. Suffering can get our attention and so can a blessing in a painful and dry season. What matters most is whether through suffering or blessing our focus turns to Him.
That day I kept the appointment I was about to cancel. When I arrived, I received a tremendous blessing. The blessing was beyond what I would dare to ask or think in a time of suffering. I came away a changed person. God’s goodness changed me.
From the blessing I received from my kept appointment and what I learned of the Father’s heart in the process, came a new vocabulary to use in times of suffering. That new vocabulary contained words of hope and blessing - the very words I would use later in the day to turn several conversations regarding our personal crisis from despair to hope.
If you are walking through a valley shadowed by death and despair, listen with new ears to the voice of the Spirit. God is about to bless you in your suffering. He has things planned for you that are similar to what Paul wrote about in Ephesians 3:20, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”