What can we learn from suffering?
BY CAREY KINSOLVING
“We learn that even though something bad may happen, in the end, something good will happen,” says Elizabeth, 9. “My cousin’s parents got divorced, but it turned out to be kind of a good thing because she got to get a kitten.”
Well, even cat lovers will agree that a kitten is no substitute for loving, responsible parents, Elizabeth. But I’m glad this new feline friend has comforted your cousin.
Grandma left Olivia, 7, an incredible spiritual legacy in a simple act of faith on her deathbed. “My great-grandma knew she was dying and she wanted to die with her glasses on so she could see Jesus in heaven. We put her glasses on.”
I doubt seriously whether Grandma needed her glasses when she saw Jesus in heaven. But I’m sure she wanted Olivia to see Jesus through her act of faith. Grandma left a legacy of triumph over death instead of fear in the face of death.
I wonder if she was thinking of this portion of David’s most famous Psalm: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” (Psalm 23:4).
Even the young can overcome the fear of death. Nicole, 11, tells how a 6-year-old girl named Sidney died of a brain tumor with grace and courage. “One night they knew she wasn’t going to make it. Everybody gathered around her. All of a sudden, a big smile covered Sidney’s face and then she died. Her mom said that Jesus was coming to take her to heaven.”
Suffering can teach you “to think about how you can do better next time,” says Robbie, 11. “If you are getting a bad grade, you can study and get a better grade.”
Robbie, this wise observation will help you avoid much suffering. A great deal of our suffering is self-induced. Bad decisions cause suffering. It’s so easy to blame circumstances and people.
Take responsibility for your own actions, and break the downward spiral of self-pity, which will cause you even more suffering. No one wants to be around a self-absorbed whiner.
Owen, 11, provides a good example: “I had a time when I let a football game come between my friend and me. We didn’t see each other or talk to each other for three weeks.”
Of course, it all depends on what football game we’re talking about. Living in Texas, I can understand how this might happen, especially if your friend is a Washington Redskin fan.
Holding grudges reduces you to a small, petty person. Instead, forgive as you have been forgiven. No offense you will ever suffer can come close to what the Lord Jesus suffered on your behalf when he hung on an ignoble cross to bear your sins.
“Yes, I think suffering makes you closer to God,” says Samuel, 10. “Once I stepped on a piece of glass. It really hurt. I think it got me closer to God because I prayed for healing. The worst things that happen to someone can turn out to be the best.”
We’re going to encounter a certain amount of suffering because we live in a world where people sin.
Think about this: It’s so easy to become proud and self-sufficient. Suffering brings us into the real world where only God is self-sufficient, and we are totally dependent upon him.
Memorize this truth: “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). Ask this question: Is God trying to teach you something from your suffering?
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