Growth through Suffering

Oct. 29, 2021

Scripture Readings

I dearly love the passages in Scripture that promise good things.

Peace, joy, comfort, and prosperity are simply things that all humans want. The problem is that life doesn’t seem to work that way. And worse yet, it too often seems that our ability to learn and grow is hampered greatly by life’s good things. Not long ago, I had coffee with a pastor who told me this story:

When the call came, he said, it was from the chair of the Board. There was no doubt that something was wrong. “Pastor, do you have time to go for a walk? There is a group of people who have decided they are going to try to get you removed from the position of Lead Pastor”, he confided.

“Why?” my friend asked. “Did I do something wrong or fail to do something that I should have done?”

The answer was vague. “They think it's time for a change. Please go quietly”.

I believe the passages from the Psalms and Lamentations became very real to him that day.

He went on to tell me that instead of reacting, he poured his heart to the Lord and asked for wisdom and guidance. I am sure the words in these passages not only reflected his hurt but called him to a new level of trust in God. After hours of prayer and soulful contemplation, the pastor went home. He prayed through the next days, weeks and months without a word from the Board.

Finally, he could wait no longer and made the phone call. “Do you have time to go for a walk?” As they walked, he asked, “What happened?”

“Something changed in you” came the reply. “Pastor, you are different. The people want you to stay and be their pastor.”

My friend must have felt like Onesimus when Paul told Philemon, “Onesimus hasn't been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us. I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart.” (Philemon 11-12)

It sometimes takes life’s pain and suffering to shape us into the people God wants us to be. It is then we can see the pain and suffering as something of value - a guide on the journey of moving closer to the heart and will of our Heavenly Father.

Cyndie Baum