many times within a short 2 week span, i’ve heard a different take on suffering. repeatedely and in different ways. today, at a mom’s group i attend, it came up yet again and i sat stunned. but this time, hot tears fell onto my cheeks and i let myself breathe it in.

another momma was standing before the entire group, sharing what we call a “mom minute” of something the Lord was speaking to her heart lately. she shared this passage from James;

My brethren, {count it all joy} when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be {perfect and complete}, {lacking nothing}.

she shared how she often wanted to run from suffering and then ended with (i’m summarizing but here’s the jist); what would happen if instead of running from it, what if we embraced it?

please note that what i am {not} saying here is that what he is saying in the passage with the “testing of your faith” is that same as “to teach us a lesson”. ugh, no. when that is said to me or when i hear it, it baffles me and to be honest, it’s hard to swallow. that’s not the Father heart of the God that i know. not at all. 

to think that our Father God would ever intentionally wound us or have us walk into a harmful situation or cause a child suffer with disabilities or have a fiance or husband just walk out and leave or let us watch as a loved one dies or permanently disable us or take away our ability to have a child (or another child) or cause a husband to verbally/physically assault a wife or let your child die… – to think that that is what is meant in “the testing of our faith” makes me feel kind of sickened. that is why i completely disagree with the statement that God does things to “teach us a lesson”…the passage says that “when you fall into various trials”, when suffering comes our way remember that “the testing of our faith produces patience”.


then our faith is tested and that then we may learn something while walking through it. (i hope i’m making sense here) …

when we do fall into trials…pain… sorrow…


we can try to hide from it.

we can try to run from it.

we can’t try to suppress it someplace deep within.

oh and do we (i) try. we can temporarily “push it away” and what good does that do. to not face it one day doesn’t mean it won’t still be there tomorrow.

besides, not facing it or pushing it away causes it to fester up, to come up in other ways in our lives, like for me personally; anger towards my love and kids, unbelievable anxiety and fear…

someone i love so dearly is walking through the most difficult season of their life. they are in the midst of suffering and pain. she recently sat on my couch and astounded me with her view on suffering. with tears welling up in her eyes and a pain that was almost tangible she told me that she wanted to get the most out of this season and her time of suffering. for a split second i thought, why?

then it hit me, why not though? we cannot deny suffering when it comes our way. again, we can try, but to truly deny our suffering… no way. it’s there.

we can’t run from it. we can’t hide it away, deep within, without it festering up in some other way and then in the end, we still must face our sufferings.

I read this passage in The Message version (which i personally love) and this is what it read;

 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. {So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.} Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

i love that. “don’t try to get out of anything prematurely”.

i sometimes hate this word but “the reality” is that suffering is here. there is no denying suffering that comes our way or the suffering that is in this world.

so what if, instead of trying to run from it or suppress it, or instead of letting our suffering have a tight grip on us, immobilizing us, we instead turned and embraced it?

what if we counted it all joy?

 my “embracing” my own suffering is probably different from what “embracing” your suffering would look like just as our sufferings are also different and unique.  i’m still not even sure i know for myself what all of this fully means. but what i do know is that instead of trying to run from our reality of suffering that we’re in right now (and maybe until eternity, i don’t know) and instead of letting suffering have a tight grip on me, i will turn and embrace it.
we lost our daughter one year and 5 months ago, and here i am just coming to this realization. that the reality is she is gone to heaven, never to (physically) be a part of our little family here on earth. never to run with her brothers, never to dress like momma and to kiss her daddy’s cheek. and it hurts like hell, this realization. our suffering. but i will embrace the reality that this is how it is right now.
i will embrace our suffering and “count it all joy” knowing that there is promise of new life and a renewed spirit. 
i will “count it all joy” that she is no longer suffering, no longer fighting for life and that in the end of all of this, we will see her again.
i will “count it all joy” that rejoicing will come with the dawn.
i will no longer fear my suffering but embrace my sorrow, my grief, my suffering.

4 thoughts on “suffering.

  1. bzephyr says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey with others. That’s what James is all about (see 5:19-20). I’m a bit of a Bible academic and the Letter of James has been my specialty. In my opinion, you’ve got it exactly right here. By the way, I believe the best understanding of James 1:6–with that tricky word “doubt” that occurs in many translations–is that we are to ask our generous God for wisdom without predetermining what we think the best answer should be. Replace “doubt” with “pre-judging the answer” and you’ll see what I mean. God knows better what we need than we do. I pray you continue to embrace your suffering. In doing so, you are giving yourself the opportunity to experience life with the eternal God who knows and loves you deeply.


  2. susanwitmer says:

    beautiful jami. we just studied this scripture in my community group and i’ve been wrestling through the same questions of what it means to embrace the suffering. and figuring how to maintain joy in spite of it, too. thanks for sharing your perspective on this. xoxo


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