Here are three reasons that begin to explore the answer: solidarity, sanctification, and supplication.
Solidarity: by suffering we come in contact with that which is common to all mankind. Our personal pain grants us legitimacy to look into the eyes of the fellow sufferer. It gives us authority to speak the word of comfort deep enough to matter and credible enough to strengthen. Our hearts do not only feel pity; they feel the other’s pain as a twin brother of our own.
Sanctification: suffering grants us the crisis of choice. We either surrender our pride in favor of his grace, or we harden our hearts to His robust invitation. We either double our resolve to trust in what our Lord has promised, or we collapse into the swamp of despair, concluding He is not good or that His goodness does not reach to us (which means, practically, that He is not good).
But there is another way to see pain: it is not a place we work our way out of, but a place we meet God in. This One whose name is Love is also named Consuming Fire. In suffering we meet Him as both. He burns our burnables–our craving for control; our tendency to use the ways of the world to outmaneuver our fears and acquire our lusts–and leaves faith, hope, and love: the raw material of the custom home our spirits were designed for.
Supplication: If suffering bonds us with the pain of others; and if suffering, when we respond rightly to it, sets us apart from the seductions of this world, then we are now, as those meeting God, well-positioned to pray. We are online with the Center, the place where the Lamb of God ever lives to intercede for men and nations — even as He continues to bear the marks of His love-wrought wounds, “standing as if slain” (Rev 5:6). Even as He continues to woo and wash us. Even as He continues to reveal that He is ours and we are His.Tagged as: friendship, sanctification, solidarity, suffering, supplication