Having gone through much suffering myself, and I can make seven suggestions on how to suffer well since suffering is inevitable.
1. Accept that suffering happens to everyone in the world, and we can’t control when, how, or what happens to us. We can only control how we react to it, so acceptance is the first step to suffering well. The reason for suffering is that we live in an imperfect and unpredictable world with imperfect people. Often we cause our own suffering from the wrong choices we make. Suffering can be called a trial, a tribulation, or an affliction.
1 Peter 4:12-14 states, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery (painful; NIV) trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13) But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.”
2. Allow suffering to strengthen you and to make you more compassionate. For instance, when you endure afflictions well, then you can support and comfort others. For example, others, who had been through similar difficulties as I have supported, encouraged, and helped me. Their encouragement helped me to become stronger and to then be able to comfort and support others who were going through similar suffering.
3. Don’t take it personally. Embrace suffering as a part of life that reveals your personality or character flaws. Personality flaws are often the result of painful memories, which generates unhealthy beliefs, that then controls your negative reactions. My website, hopeforcompletehealing.com, explains how to discover, transform, and reprogram painful memories and unhealthy beliefs, so that you can deal with difficulties in a healthy way.
4. Forgiving is the key to suffering well. Forgiving those who cause or have caused your suffering is the only way to keep your peace and joy. When you don’t forgive, then you become angry, bitter, or resentful because you are self-absorbed and focused on the injustice of the suffering. For example, I could have resented my ex-husband for allowing my son to go down the wrong path but, I realize my son is responsible for the wrong choices he makes. I could have resented my son for making wrong choices, and bringing embarrassment and shame to the family but, I realize I am no one special and I am not alone. My point is not to take offense, because of another person’s weakness or sin. Be quick to forgive and practice the truths in the Word of God. Refer to my post on forgiveness WHY SHOULD I FORGIVE.
5. Turn your suffering over to God and allow Him to work in your life. Difficulties perfect you, strengthen your faith, and increases your ability to endure. Submit the outcome of the trial or difficulty to God and don’t lose His peace and joy. Remember, you cannot control what, when, or how difficulties happen, but you can control what you do when they come.
James 1:2-4 – “Count it all joy, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3) for you know that the testing of your faith produces1 steadfastness2 (endurance; patience). 4) And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect3 and complete4, lacking in nothing.” (ESV)
** 1) Produce means to bring forth; create; bear (as a plant bears fruit and seed); etc..
** 2) Steadfastness means firm, fixed, settled, or established. 2. Constant; not changing.
** 3) Perfect means complete in all respects; without defect.
** 4) Complete means lacking none of the parts; to make entire, thorough, or perfect
** 5) Endurance means the ability to last, continue, or remain b) ability to stand pain, distress, fatigue, etc.
** 6) Patience means the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, or irritation.
?? Why is it important to test our faith?
Testing our faith reveals what we really believe. Testing also strengthens and purifies our faith. Trials and suffering give us the opportunity to practice the truths in God’s Word, which strengthen our faith and transform our thinking, attitudes, and character.
Romans 5:2-4 states, “Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3) Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4) and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,” (ESV)
6. Stay focused on the truths and promises of God’s Word and do what it says. When we do this, then we avoid depression that often accompanies suffering. Grief is healthy, but depression is not. Depression is inner anger, caused by focusing on what you don’t want. Looking up and finding the rainbow, and maintaining a positive view, helps you suffer well. The Bible says to “be thankful in everything, pray without ceasing, and rejoice always” (1 Thes. 5:16-18). This sounds hard to do, but with God’s help, all things are possible.
Philippians 4:6-7 states, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7) And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” And, 4:13 “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
7. Stay humble. Suffering will often leads to pride, because we think we didn’t or don’t deserve it. So suffering well is to humbly seek God’s help and strength to endure and overcome. Remember, Satan also causes afflictions to draw us away from God, read the story of Job. Satan wants us to become angry and depressed, which is why we need to resist him and draw near to God.
James 4:6-8 states, “But he gives more grace. Therefore it states, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ 7) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8) Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
None of us likes suffering, but it happens. What you do during times of suffering will either make you stronger or miserable; it is your choice to suffer well or not. Also, keep suffering in proper perspective. I often say, “This too shall pass.”
Romans 8:18 states, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 states, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18) as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
Read about how Joseph suffered well: Joseph, an Example of Suffering Well and God’s Response: Part 2 of Suffering Well