She came to visit me over Christmas – her sweet voice as gentle and patient as always. What a joy it was to catch up late into the night as we took turns snuggling her newest baby girl.

I smile at how our now twenty year-old friendship began: I was a college student, and she was part of a posse of seventh grade girls I was privileged to mentor through their early youth group years. She tells me the story now about how her mom dragged her to youth group crying because she didn’t want to go, and we laugh hard because to know this girl now? She’s one of the most even-keeled, committed Jesus followers I know. Heh. God matured us both during those critical growing years, and formed a bond between us that would last through time, distance, and all kinds of life changes.

Sarah L

{The early years: Sarah’s the one in yellow, and I’m at her right shoulder..}

Now all these years later the roles are reversed, and Sarah has been teaching me about what it means to suffer well.

When you’re young and full of life, no one expects to hear the words “brain tumor.” But after an out-of-the-blue seizure and a whirlwind of specialist visits, this was my friend’s diagnosis a few weeks ago. Brain surgery quickly followed. Critical brain surgery for this precious friend, daughter, wife, and momma to four young girls.  I thought of my own children – and her tiny newborn that I had just snuggled at Christmas – and I could barely say the words out loud.

But from the beginning, this girl was determined to focus on truth.

Love God Greatly- Peter Study

I remember her telling me that she didn’t want to waste this.

Would the journey be easy? Far from it.

Have there been moments of uncertainty? Absolutely.

But in Sarah’s words, “Knowing that God could somehow use it to bring himself glory suddenly gave purpose to this trial.” 

My friend has not wasted her suffering. Instead, she has confidently allowed Jesus to shine brighter through her in the midst of it. 

Over and over, I have watched Sarah meditate on Scripture, intentionally filling her mind with truth as the waves crashed in harder. How beautiful that as followers of Christ, we’re now able to view our suffering through a different lens than the rest of the world…

No matter what the outcome, my future is secure in Christ (1 Peter 1:4).

This trial will serve a purpose that is greater than my comfort (1 Peter 1:7).

Even in uncertainty there is inexpressible joy (1 Peter 1:8).

Yes, there’s even this “unexplainable” joy, and the world is noticing.

It’s one thing to look back, see God’s hand and recognize the good that comes from suffering after it’s over and resolution has come. It’s quite another to find joy smack in the middle of the hardest days when we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. The question is not if suffering will come, but rather how we will respond when we’re in the midst of it.

 “Jesus lost all his glory so that we could be clothed in it. He was shut out so we could get access. He was bound, nailed, so that we could be free. He was cast out so we could approach. And Jesus took away the only kind of suffering that can really destroy you: that is being cast away from God. He took so that now all suffering that comes into your life will only make you great. A lump of coal under pressure becomes a diamond. And the suffering of a person in Christ only turns you into somebody gorgeous.” ~ Tim Keller

And since our sufferings can’t really destroy us, let’s view them as an opportunity to shine Jesus to the world…

 

 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while,
if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 
so that the tested genuineness of your faith 
—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—
may be found to result in praise and glory and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
~ 1 Peter 1:6-7
 
At his feet,
 
*Let’s Talk: What are some of your favorite passages of scripture you cling to in suffering? Let’s share and encourage those who might need to embrace those truths today… 
 

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