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“The Blessing of Suffering”

Broken by Grace in a Journey through Dark Places

Wr i t t e n b y M a rg i e J i m e n e z

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an

eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (2 Corinthians 4:17).

I define “The Blessing of Suffering” as the positive outcomes of the very

difficult and frequently painful trials believers often experience. Grace,
defined as God’s unmerited favor is what sustains and brings us through the
dark places of trials and tribulations and helps us to emerge transformed,
renewed and redirected.

Often when we are in the midst of a trial we don’t realize we’re in it until
either a significant amount of time has passed or something major happens
that awakens us to that grim fact. We live our lives so caught up in the cares
of each day that we chalk up “bad” days to unforeseen or impossible
circumstances. But what do you do when that “bad” day turns into a “bad”
week or a “bad” month or a “bad” year?

Believers are often tested and we face temptations daily. Sometimes they
seem to come in like floods, which seem unstoppable and impossible to
overcome. We need to be aware that the enemy of our soul makes it his
cause to get us to sin and fall and lose our way or ultimately give up on our
faith. But more importantly is that we need to realize that the God we serve
is keenly aware of our many flaws and weaknesses. He knows how much we
can endure or to what point we can bear these bad circumstances. What we
need to recognize is that nothing happens in a believer’s life that is not
ultimately meant for our good. Think about it. Those “bad” circumstances
you lament and carry on about are meant for your good! If God allows those
times of trial and testing, it’s because He wants to see what you’re truly
made of. Our trials are meant as a refining process in our lives so they will
expose the weaknesses in you that need to be strengthened. God says in
His Word in Zechariah 13:9a (CEV),

“Then I will purify them and put them to the test, just as silver
and gold are purified and tested.”

One of the ultimate paradoxes in Scripture is found in the book of James,

Chap. 1, vs. 2-4. It says,

“Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of

many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith
develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so
that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Joy is defined in the dictionary as “an emotion of great delight or happiness

caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying”. One would never
think to associate the word “joy” with trials or testing which by their very
meaning imply affliction or suffering. Yet God Word’s provides the answers to
every difficult moment in life by resolutely telling us that although

“we are hard pressed on every side (we are) not crushed;
perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned;
stuck down but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4, vs. 8, 9 (NIV))

Recently I came through a particularly difficult trial of my own. I’ve served

the Lord for over 29 years and enjoyed many great blessings in my life but I
have not always been obedient. But I thank God for His grace because had it
not been for this unmerited favor I don’t know where I would be today.

In the fall of 2004, I was working as a Manager in a major Pharmaceutical

company. I had been there many years and held a good position with a good
salary. I knew God had a calling on my life but I was not willing to obey that
call. Spiritually I was in a rut but I was testing God’s patience with me and
eventually He will chasten. He is the Vine and will prune those branches (us)
that don’t bear fruit. The process is certainly not pleasant.

In January of 2005, I was confronted with a huge decision – do I stay with the
company and relocate to another state or do I end my employment after 20
years on the job? I prayed about this for almost six months and in early
February 2005, I was offered a relocation package. When the letter was
placed before me asking if I would accept or decline the offer, I felt such a
certainty in my heart that God wanted me to decline the offer. I signed away
what seemed a good, steady offer of employment and all its apparently
wonderful benefits because I felt with all my heart that that is what God
wanted me to do. I said, “Okay Lord. You’ve led me to do this now I’m going
to trust You to take care of the rest.” God knows our future and our lives are
in His hands. Little did I know that just one month later, I would be entering
the greatest trial of my Christian walk when the most important person in my
life would fall seriously ill.

In mid March of 2005, my mother suffered a brain hemorrhage. Doctors said

she should have died instantly but God had other plans. Certainly this was
the ultimate crisis and boy did I begin to pray. I felt such a strong conviction
in my heart that she would be okay and even as she remained in a coma for
6 weeks, I felt no despair. I didn’t feel depressed. I felt hopeful because I
knew that God was going to lift her up and slowly as time passed she did
begin to recover. After six weeks, Mom was moved to another facility where
she underwent intensive rehabilitation. She spent another six weeks there
and due to circumstances beyond our control had to be moved once again to
what they call a “sub-acute”, where she was supposed to continue her
rehabilitation. She only lasted a week and half there.

A few days after we placed her in the new facility I realized that it was not
going to provide her the help she needed and I immediately began making
plans to move her out of there and into another place. As I did all this, I
remember walking home one afternoon and meditating on everything that
was going on and I felt the Lord speak to my spirit. He said, “What if I’m
preparing to take her Home?” I replied, “Lord, I know my mom is going to die
eventually. She’s ill and elderly and I know she’s not going to live forever.” I
didn’t know if the Lord meant next week, in a month, in 10 years but I felt so
strongly about it that I knew the Lord was telling me to talk to my
Grandmother and my sister and prepare them for this fact. It was a difficult
task because they had already been grieving tremendously throughout the
whole experience. My mom was still alive but she was my Grandmother’s
only child and seeing her sick was taking its toll on her. My sister had already
cried a river of tears. What would she do now? It took me a week to work up
the courage to talk to them about this but on a Thursday afternoon while we
were visiting my mom, I spoke to my sister. I don’t know if she understood
what I was telling her because she was so distraught and overcome with
emotion but I did what God told me to do. Two days later, shortly after
midnight on June 25th 2005, my mom went home to be with Jesus. Although
the way it happened was a shock, for me it was not unexpected. Then on
June 30th 2005, just five days later, my employment ended. It was five days
between these two big losses although one couldn’t even begin to compare
with the other.

Our entire family was now in mourning. Losing a loved one is probably the
most difficult trial a person can go through, humanly speaking but I believe
with all my heart that God gave me and my family an opportunity to say
goodbye, three extra months in fact and I’m so grateful for it. One thing that
amazed me through those first few days of funeral preparations was that
God’s Word, which is chockfull of wonderful promises, takes on even deeper
meaning when you’re in the midst of a trial such as this. The Lord would
bring to mind verses like Psalm 116:15, which says,

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”

Or 2 Corinthians 5:8, where Paul says that

“to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”

There are just so many marvelous and encouraging verses in Scripture that
bring us through this difficult process and it certainly did that for me.
After my mom’s death, I spent some time doing all the things one does when
you lose a loved one. Then a new school year began and I decided to start
seeking employment just to keep myself busy. I didn’t want to spend my
time thinking about my mom’s death. I chose to see it as a home going.
She went to heaven because God wanted her home. I began anticipating that
wonderful heavenly reunion that is so certain for the believer. The sadness
that would seek to overwhelm me at times because the reality was and is
that I miss her terribly often dissipates with the joyful realization that Mom is
with the Lord. She’s in that awesome place described in Revelation 21,
where it says, there’s no more death or mourning or crying or pain. Mom
was no longer suffering and that made me glad. How could I feel otherwise?

Six more months passed and at first I had a couple of good prospects but one
fell through and the other although I was offered the job I declined it because
I didn’t feel it was the right one for me. At the time I could afford to wait. I
was collecting separation pay until mid May of the following year. I thought I
had plenty of time to find another position. After all everyone told me how
great my resume was and that I shouldn’t have a problem finding another
job. But unbeknownst to me God had other plans and there a new phase of
my trial began in earnest.

In January of 2006 I decided as if awakened from a slumber that I should be

taking advantage of my forced time off and give that time to the Lord.
Although I had begun praying and was developing more of a discipline in this
area I still wasn’t where I needed to be which was consistent. I would drop
my son off at school, come home and begin to pray and pray. I began
reading the One Year Bible and as I read the Scripture, I began writing down
the Bible promises that were encouraging to me. I decided to begin keeping
a journal but it was mostly Bible verses at first or recording anything I would
read or hear that I felt was applicable to me and my experience.

Whenever I would read Hebrews 12:11 which reads,

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful. Later on

it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those
who have been trained by it”

what serenity those words would bring to my heart! I knew that eventually,
no matter how long God took in this process I would come forth as gold with
experiences that were shaping me to be what God wants me to be. My faith
was building. My confidence was growing. My trust was developing. I was
learning patience. I was learning to wait on the Lord.

The months passed and still no job offers. By this time I had submitted over
100 applications and or resumes to all different types of employers. The
silence was deafening. The stillness was disquieting. I had to pray. I needed
Him to provide that calm, that firm assurance that in due course everything
was going to be alright.

Mid May arrived and my separation pay ended. Now began the real test of
faith and learning how to trust completely on the Lord. I spent May, June and
July seeking God’s direction and would find just enough of the funds I needed
to pay the essential bills although the only salary coming in was my
husband’s which wasn’t much but God was faithful. I borrowed from friends
and family to see us through those months. In mid August I found myself in
the same dilemma and still no job on the horizon. I needed $1700 to meet
my rent and other important bills for the month and I began to believe God
for a miracle.

On August 20th at 3:54 pm I wrote in my journal the following words, “I’ve

asked the Lord to supply our need for the bills this month…by faith this
prayer will be answered days before September 1st.” and I highlighted those
words. That night at about 7:15 pm or so, my former Pastor who is a dentist
and owns a clinic on LaSalle St., called and asked if I would work in his clinic
for the next 2 weeks to cover for his vacationing receptionist. I knew God
was beginning to answer my prayer. I worked for him (9) days and he paid
me $1100. On Friday, September 1st I went to an MGT Juniors retreat and I
told the Lord that I was not taking that burden with me. He had provided the
$1100 and I knew without a doubt He would provide the rest. It was just a
matter of time. I went on the retreat and was truly blessed.

The Monday after the retreat which was Labor Day I get a call from my
younger sister. She lives on a fixed income so I had not asked her for
anything thinking she would not be able to help me out but she says,
“Margie, I haven’t slept all weekend thinking about your need.” I haven’t
even told her about it. My other sister had spilled the beans. I told her not to
worry about it but she said to me, “No, no matter what I’m going to find a
way to get you that money you need.” By Thursday of that week, she had
deposited the balance in my checking account and my need was met. Praise
be to God!

That same week, I got a call about two jobs and interviewed for both. The
first job was not to my liking but the other seemed perfect. I noticed right
away how God had changed me. When I came before the Lord about the job,
I said, “Lord, not my will but yours be done.” No matter how wonderful it
looked I wanted God’s perfect will and would settle for nothing less. I got
the job I so desired but I know it was God’s will for me and I’m content. It’s
not about the money. I don’t make as much as I used to. It’s not about what
I think is perfect for me. It’s about what He wants and this new job is what
He wanted for me. I look forward to fulfilling His purpose in my new
workplace and I thank Him every day for the opportunity to be a light in the
midst of the darkness.
I know God had stayed His hand in my job situation. He was not allowing me
to move forward in this because He was teaching me life-changing lessons.
He was teaching what it really means to live by faith. He taught me what it
means to wait on Him. He taught me that He IS JEHOVAH JIREH! He taught
me to rely with confidence upon His Word. He showed me that His love and
mercy for me are greater than all my sin.

I can’t even begin to put into words how grateful I am to God for the blessing
of suffering. Faith was triumphant and I’m a new person in Him. I’m not
perfect. I never will be but I know I’m being perfected in Christ. I know now
without a doubt that with God all things are possible and that no one person,
experience or circumstance will ever change that reality.

I went through so much more than what I could possibly write here but the
gist of it is this… God is faithful. He was and is to me. So if you’re going
through a particular trial in your life right now, my advice to you is, “DON’T
GIVE UP! He will see you through any and all situations you face. He is our
Helper in time of storm. He is our Shield and our Deliverer. That’s a
promise. Remember this…

“Blessed is the man who perseveres (endures) under trial

(temptation), because when he has stood the test he will
receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who
love Him. “ James 1:12