Love Through Suffering

I sometimes wonder how many of us survive the profound hardships and adversities we experience in this life. Ultimately, I know it is God and His grace. Still, there is such trauma, tragedy, despair, violence, and deprivation in the world that I'm really awed at how resilient the human spirit is.

At times, I've wondered how I have endured all I've gone through. I think if you've suffered to a high degree, or perhaps to any degree, you'd ponder this yourself. And maybe you do.

I understand.

Everyone has their own thoughts, beliefs, and explanations about such things. Everyone has their go-to responses. But how do you look someone in their red, weary, tear-stained eyes and so easily explain away their struggle or pain?

How do you look into the wounded eyes of someone whose childhood was filled with abuse, betrayal, neglect, or rejection and assure them God cares? He always has?

How do you move so quickly past the many long, arduous, exhaustion-filled years of somebody's debilitating chronic illness to encourage belief for better days?

How do you genuinely touch a broken heart that's lost someone so dear and precious inside of twenty minutes?

How do you reach past the deep hurt, loss, suffering, damage, and injustice of a persons life to spark real enduring hope?

How do you? 

I understand many issues can be involved, but how is it that we can often be so causal or dismissive about the suffering of others? How is it we even do that with our own pain and suffering?

Could you let down your hair
Be transparent for a while, 
Just a little while, 
To see if you're human after all.

Honesty is a hard attribute to find, 
When we all want to seem like
We've got it all figured out.

Well let me be the first to say 
That I don't have a clue, 
Don't have all the answers,
And God knows I pretend like I do.

Just trying
To find my way
To find my way
The best that I know how.

[Trying by Lifehouse]

I think the words of this Lifehouse song best describe how we can feel around those who always seem to have "the answers" (and a quick Bible verse to go with them). Perhaps we've all had times when we've come across this way.

The truth is, we can't always make sense out of what happens. We don't have the answers to all of this life's questions; we can't always fix things or make them better. Sometimes, things happen that cannot be neatly explained. Sometimes, the truth is excruciating, and the only way to deal with it is head-on. Sometimes, there are just no words to match the heartache. Sometimes, you cannot pray someone out of their circumstances.

We can't honestly know the depth of what another human being has endured or gone through in their life without investing genuine time, compassion, and understanding. Even then, only God really knows the full extent of it. Truthfully, we have to come out of our own comfort zones to help support someone who is suffering, and it can force us to examine our own hearts, and perhaps our long-held beliefs. It can also stir-up our unresolved personal issues we're carrying around.

The good news is, Jesus cares deeply about our pain, suffering, and heartache. He not only cares but wants to help us through it; He wants to hold us close during these times. He won't dismiss or belittle our suffering. Instead, He wants to love us even more deeply through it in the patient, tender way only He can. He really does see us and understands the truth of our struggle.

Yes, we might be scared, but His love is safe. We might doubt, but His love is sure. We might hold back, but He loves without reservation.

And guess what?

We're the very ones He desires to love other people through. The question is, will we let Him?

Instead of telling people how much Jesus loves them, how about we actually start showing them.

In my opinion, the only real answer is to love, especially through suffering.

Love purely without trying to sugarcoat circumstances. Love deeply without always trying to give advice or quote Scripture. Love sincerely in the silences without trying to fill in the gaps.

Simply and genuinely love.

Now, I'm not about escapism; I believe in facing reality and dealing with our stuff. I think we must each be responsible for doing the work we need to; for working through any healing processes God shows us are necessary, and certainly, I believe He will help us do that. However, in those moments and times when we're on the front line of people's suffering and heartbreak - when they're profoundly hurting and in need of comfort; when we're holding their hearts, so to speak - let's not dish out pat answers, personal opinions, or casual comments; let's not throw platitudes around. Let's simply love them where they are.

Let's love them like Jesus, and let's be led by the Holy Spirit, the great Comforter himself.

That is what will make a difference.

That's what we all need in times of deep suffering.


Michelle Holderman 
Copyright © 2012


  1. What a beautiful post, Michelle. It's funny because I think you are absolutely right He loves us with an everlasting love, yet we can't always make sense of it all. I posted a kinda negative blog a couple of days ago on how I was feeling because sometimes it's too easy to question everything and forget that we don't need to know all the answers. We just need to trust Him. Thanks for the reminder and blessing.

  2. Ginny, I always appreciate you stopping by. I just read your post you spoke of and left a comment on your blog. I'll just say here that I truly appreciate your honesty.

    Living with Lyme is very difficult; that's for sure. It is, however, comforting to be able to rest and trust in Him; even without knowing all the answers to our questions. You're a blessing to me too! Take care of yourself. (((Hugs)))

  3. Michelle...
    What you wrote here is so filled with wisdom it is hard to take it all in at once. I am one who will sometimes write a response or give a quick answer or even advice...mostly unwanted that can be flippant or diminish what the person is going through and what they really need is someone who understands and listens. This past week we have had emails and phone calls concerning several who are struggling with Lyme or looking for doctors. You have given me pause here and have me reflecting on how I responded to them. And the trusting without knowing all the answers...oh boy do I need that. I always want to know why and figure things out before I can feel at peace and not worry...that does not really work with Lyme or life for that matter!
    Yes, Michelle...that is what I need too..just to be loved where I am at. Bless you for speaking from your heart to ours.

  4. Renee, I've been guilty of doing that before too. I think we probably all have. I've learned a great deal through my own personal experiences concerning this. I'm sure we could all share some stories. But I think people just want realness. And it is a learned thing to know that we're just not always going to understand life nor God. But I've come to see that He's more interested in our trusting Him more than He is our always understanding Him. That's my two cents :)

    Bless you, friend.

  5. awesome post Michelle.....sometimes it's hard to believe the resiliance of someone who'se managed to come through so much. People say that about I know it's Him....He softens the tough stuff...His amazing love somehow breaks through the hate..the hurt...the pain. Stay strong inspire.

    1. Nikki, I somehow missed replying to your comment here. Its only been two years...LOL...but I wanted to say thanks for your words. Seriously. You have a deep understanding of this I know. You inspire many by sharing your story. Thank you, friend.