"When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied."
- Isaiah 53:11 NLT
When I had to undergo surgery last year, things didn't go quite as well as the doctors and I had hoped. In fact, I developed some serious complications that caused me a lot of pain and anguish, both physical and mental. All along, I was trying to convince my doctor and his staff that something was wrong, but instead of being compassionate and understanding, they became more and more impatient with me. My symptoms eventually became so severe that even the doctor could no longer deny that something was terribly wrong, and he finally began taking steps to undo some of the damage that had been done from the surgery. He said that in 15 years of performing this procedure, he had only seen one other person experience the kind of complications that I did. Hearing this did very little to encourage or comfort me, and I began to question what it all meant.
Frankly, this whole traumatic experience left me bewildered. Why did it happen? What purpose did it serve? Can anything good really come from it? What happens now? As I determined to hear from God about the matter, and to try to gain His perspective, He led me to some verses of Scripture that provided me with the reassurance and consolation I longed for. The first thing He did was to assure me that He had a good purpose for my suffering. He showed me some verses that actually apply to Jesus, but that He wanted me to apply to my situation at that time. "When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous… I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death." (Isaiah 53:11-12 NLT) In other words, God was not going to allow my suffering to be in vain. He was going to use it to reach more people with His message of salvation through me than ever before, and I had some rewards and promotions coming.
The Lord also assured me that He never enjoys seeing His children suffer. "For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone." (Lamentations 3:31-33 NIV) The Lord even goes so far as to say that when we hurt, He hurts, too. "In all their suffering He also suffered, and He personally rescued them. In His love and mercy, He redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years." (Isaiah 63:9 NLT) These passages from Scripture express God's care, concern, and everlasting love for His people. When we go through tough times, as Jesus said we would (John 16:33), we must never doubt how He really feels about us. He is deeply committed to keeping His promise in Romans 8:28 (NASB), which says that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
The Lord warned me that I was not to become bitter or resentful toward my doctor or his staff. And He brought to my remembrance some words of Jesus from the Message Bible that applied to my situation: "You're looking for someone to blame… Look instead for what God can do." (John 9:3 MSG) If I wanted the Lord to restore me to health, and to use my suffering in mighty ways for His glory, then I had to resist all feelings of unforgiveness, and entrust the whole matter to Him. If you are in a painful place today, it is no coincidence that you are reading this. I urge you to take this message to heart, to turn to the Lord with your questions and doubts, and to let Him make your suffering count - for your good and His glory!
Prayer: Lord, I confess that I am struggling now. Teach me how to pour out my heart to You, and to open up to You - holding nothing back - so that I can receive the help and healing You have for me today. Thank You that as I put my trust in You, and cooperate with You, You will make my pain and anguish count in extraordinary and eternal ways!
- J. M. Farro