Learn from Suffering

Job 28:1-28

There is a man in our congregation who recently underwent brain surgery. The tumor in the frontal section within his cranium was pushing his brain back and slowly eroding his memory. Each week the growth of the tumor became more pronounced and debilitating for him. Brain surgery was the only option.

I visited him in the hospital following successful surgery. A scar on his scalp stretched from his left ear across the top of his head down to his right ear. Stainless steel staples held the incision closed. He was lying there on the bed smiling when I walked in. It wasn’t long before I realized that my visiting him was for a different reason than I had planned. In going I received a fresh load of wisdom. He didn’t get any from me; I got it from him.

He spoke of the Lord from the moment we started our conversation until I left. He mentioned insights the Lord had given him. He talked about lessons he’d begun to learn. He spoke of an overwhelming sense of peace he had enjoyed from the git-go. I mean, if ever a man was fully focused on the Lord, this man was. His words flowed with a gentle tone. There was a calm pace in our conversation as he responded. He was saying, in effect, “Please don’t feel sorry for me. This brain surgery has become my opportunity to trust in the Lord with my whole heart, to have Him show me some things I would have otherwise missed.” He was, literally, rejoicing, as was his wife. Wisdom and understanding had completely eclipsed pain and panic.

How true! My friend in the hospital didn’t need pity, he needed respect, and he got it from me that day! He has a head start on wisdom beyond many of us. So when he speaks, it is with new insight about life. He is still responding to life’s challenges with joy. Both have come to him from God through the experience of suffering. The major benefit has been the rearrangement of his priorities.

Job teaches us a valuable lesson: the greater the suffering, the better we determine what really matters. Now we come back to where we started: suffering helps us clarify our priorities and focus on right objectives.

What wisdom have you gained through suffering?

Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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