When I was 22 years old, I had graduated from my dream school (University of Virginia), was living in my dream city (Washington DC), and was engaged to my college sweetheart. I remember driving down the road dazzled by the huge rock on my finger giddy with happiness but also filled with dread.
When was the other shoe going to drop?
I knew I was lucky so I said a fervent prayer of thanksgiving because I knew that ultimately all good things came through Him.
At the time, I was attending McLean Bible Church with my roommates and I heard Pastor Lon Solomon preach on the importance of suffering in honing our faith. I resented the message. I hadn’t experienced any real suffering yet in my life but I was as faithful and appreciative as I could be.
Because I hadn’t suffered did that mean I couldn’t be a “good” Christian?
(keep in mind these were 22 year old whitney’s thoughts)
I tried reading Pastor Solomon’s book Brokenness and it still got my goat so to speak. I disagreed strongly then (and now) that God caused his daughter to suffer and by extension Pastor Solomon, but I was still reluctantly drawn to this message that suffering was somehow a key part of being Christian.
Nearly a decade later, I’ve suffered a broken engagement, my parent’s divorce, a car accident, and the loss of my mother and grandmother - in addition to a thousand other smaller disappointments and struggles.
I know now: suffering is an inevitable part of living in a broken world. How we choose to deal with this suffering can do a lot to further God’s kingdom.
This does not mean that you have to suffer to be Christian, but the Bible does call all of us to prepare ourselves to deal with the brokenness of this world.
As I suffer through this season of grief, I am simultaneously rejoicing in all the gifts and blessings I have been given. I fear these grief posts sound more melancholy than reflective. Friends, know while I still suffer, I do have a lot to praise Him for. There is joy in my life.
While I don’t feel like the same outgoing, exuberant self yet, I am grappling with my new normal and taking the good with the bad. I pray that I’m growing into a stronger, more caring person because of my suffering and that I will be better able to minister to others.
Thank you for being with me on this journey.