Have you ever opened a gift and wondered what the giver was thinking?
I won’t call out any of my family or friends here, but suffice to say, I think we have all been the confused recipient of a sweater that wasn’t our size or a gift card to a store where we don’t shop. But we smiled all the same and said how much it meant to us, because we know that when it comes to gifts, it’s all about the gesture.
Suffering is a lot like that — the gift you never asked for, and don’t really want to receive. Sometimes we look at suffering and, like the apostles who see Jesus as a stranger on the shore, we don’t recognize it for what it can be. We don’t appreciate the catalyst suffering can be for change, for growth, for grace.
What was the gift that you received in disguise? Was it a relationship that confounded and frustrated you? Was it a job that tested your spirit? An obstacle that stopped you dead in your tracks? A rejection that threatened to break your spirit?
If I go back and look at the worst gifts I’ve ever gotten, chances are that I didn’t like them because I didn’t know what to do with them — they were more fitted for someone else’s interests, someone else’s life. It’s the same with suffering. We’re tempted to cast suffering aside when it comes our way because it doesn’t fit the person we are. Suffering is made to fit the person God knows we have the ability, with His grace, to become.
Hang onto that suffering. Unlike the misshapen sweater, it really will come in handy.
— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS