If you’ve never suffered, you really don’t know who you are or who God is. That’s a strong statement. A leading preacher once surveyed Christ followers on what helped them grow the most? Was it the sermons, Bible studies, examples of other Christians, Fellowship, Worship, times of serving? No. While all of these are important, Christ followers largely agreed that the times of the greatest and deepest growth came through suffering.
However, this growth does not happen automatically. It is possible to suffer and not experience positive growth. Suffering can sideline our growth. It is common to get stuck in the process. It is common to experience a withering of growth along with multiplying negative emotions, like resentment, anxiety, and depression.
Every loss should be appropriately grieved whether it’s a favorite coffee cup, or a beloved relationship. Most losses will include sorrow, disruption of things we cherish, and often some level of anxiety. But how do we turn our losses into the kind of disruption that enable us to grow stronger?
I’ve found that suffering pulls me out of self reliance. I’ve occasionally had bouts of vertigo that left me unable to walk a straight line. That physical disequilibrium was temporarily debilitating. But it led to help and therapy by which I regained my sense of balance. I’ve experienced spiritual disequilibrium at times too. And times where we lose our sense of balance can become opportunities for a reset and renewal.
I have a fuller article that explains how to tell if you’re growing in the midst of suffering, stuck at a hard place, or getting disoriented by it all. If you’d like to have it, use the contact form and request the article on “Suffering and Spiritual Growth”.