Dear Little Princess,
Earlier this year, I read a fantastic article about looking for a spouse. It’s true that we’re admonished to choose a Godly mate, someone who meshes well with our unique personalities, and someone who treats us and others well. But how often are we encouraged to look for someone who suffers well?
We can take this advice even closer to home: how often are we challenged to suffer well ourselves? God never promises us a comfortable life. He doesn’t promise us tomorrow. He does promise to be with us through every step of our Earthly journey, and He warns us that there will be tough times (see James 1). Since we know that suffering is coming, Little Princess, I want you to learn to suffer well.
I’m learning that there are two distinct types of suffering in a marriage: suffering when you yourself are ill, and suffering through the illness of a spouse. With Daddy and me, I’ve had occasional, acute suffering with minor infections. Although I feel pretty miserable for about 24 hours, my illnesses have never lasted much longer than a day or two. Daddy suffers chronically with his CSF leak. The two weeks when he was recovering from his first major operation were some of the hardest weeks I’ve been through (Turbo’s diagnosis was also pretty rough).
I feel truly horrible when I’m sick, and I don’t handle illness well at all. I’m grouchy and snappy, and I’m sure no one likes being around me. But taking care of a sick spouse is miserable in a completely different way. It adds a layer of stress unlike anything else in life. In some ways, I almost think it’s worse than being sick myself, not because Daddy gets grumpy like I do, but just because he’s not able to help share the rewarding burden of caring for our family.
More than likely, either you, your husband, or one of your children will experience a health crisis at one time or another. Whether it’s something short-lived or a long ordeal, you will need to learn how to suffer gracefully. It won’t be easy. It won’t be fun. But the Lord can use that situation to help you become more like Himself. He will use that hardship for His glory.
We cannot, on our own strength, suffer graciously. But we can learn to suffer well with the Spirit’s help.
When hardship and illness hit, pray. Ask the Lord for the grace and mercy to get through each day. Walk in His strength and not your own.
Read the Word. Scripture abounds with stories of real-life people who have graciously endured difficult times. Jesus Christ set the Perfect Example of this when He accepted the bitter cup of the Cross and did so without complaining.
Accept help from others. It is truly humbling when the Body of Christ comes together to help in times of need. Humble yourself and accept others’ offers of meals, house cleaning, and childcare. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to bless them in kind.
Never forget that no matter how difficult your suffering may become, Eternity with Christ will erase all the pain and suffering from your mind. No matter what, keep your focus on Heaven.
All my love,