How to suffer without being afraid

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By Kristen Struyk

Today marks 12 years since my ankle surgery which resulted in the development of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome–and the Lord never fails to teach me something new

At first, I built my life around finding healing. Though it was exhausting and disappointing, it was my best dream and my uppermost thought at the time. Then, later, I devalued healing because I did not get it… I’m not sure that was right, either. I tried to make it sound like I had gotten the better end of the deal, the bigger blessing–that there was a deeper nobility in what I was going through because I did not get an “easy way.” I tried to make healing seem unimportant and I tried to make my situation sound a lot better than it felt. That was also not the whole truth.

Now, though I am still far off from having anything “figured out,” I think of both–healing and holding–and I have come to know each one as an outstretched hand of our good God. The following is from Paul Tournier’s Creative Suffering, a book that, read along with Scripture, changed the trajectory of my life and turned all of my thoughts around.

“So there is always a double hazard: will he recover or not? Will he grow under misfortune or not? And if there is a double risk for the patient, there is a double task for the doctor: to work towards healing, and to help the patient to make good use of his sickness.”–Tournier, Creative Suffering

What I am seeing here in this double risk for each of us, double task for the Lord is the Lord’s two hands accomplishing His perfect will. And so I see His good strong hand reaching out so beautifully and tenderly–in the stories of healing–through questions like these: “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51), “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:6). Should that question arise to me, should that hand be extended, I will take that hand in faith, because it is His.

And so I also see His other good strong hand reaching out so beautifully and tenderly–in the stories of holding–through questions like these: “Can you drink the cup that I drink?” (Matthew 20:22) “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:4). And should that question arise to me, should that hand be extended, I will take that hand in faith, because it is His

The turning and seeing something new, for me, is: How often have I refused His hand because it was not the one I wanted, and prevented His creative power from recreating my life?

My uppermost thought now, as I see it, is how to suffer without being afraid: to walk more closely with Him for His glory–by whichever hand He leads. My understanding is the least important part of His perfect process. I know both hands of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness and I do not need to value one over the other because I know He holds my hand.

This is sufficient grace, knowing I will always have a hand to hold.

“Blessed be the Lord who daily carries us.” Psalm 68:19