Thanks For The “Great Equalizer”

Gratitude Chronicles Part III

I remember the first time I wasn’t buying what someone was selling. I was at a church service where a woman, who had been battling brain cancer, told everyone how God had used her traumatic journey to draw her closer to God, and refine her. I think she even said, “I honestly wouldn’t change a thing.” I remember thinking, “Really? You wouldn’t change having brain cancer? Wouldn’t it have been better for God to accomplish all the good things you just described without suffering?” That wasn’t the last time I’ve heard someone say something like that, and as the years have gone by I too can now say that some of my most precious experiences of God’s grace, and my greatest life-lessons have come out of pain. The truth is, I hate pain and I hate suffering, but when I look back, it’s been the moments of deepest pain and sorrow that God has used to give me some of His best gifts.

Philip Yancey long ago wrote a classic, must read, book anyone of faith must read. It’s called “Where Is God When It Hurts?” and in the book he tweaks a list created by a Catholic nun named Monica Hellwig who originally made a list describing the “advantages” to being poor. Yancey turns her list into a list of the “advantages” to suffering.

  1. Suffering, the great equalizer, brings us to a point where we may realize our urgent need for redemption
  2. Those who suffer know not only their dependence on God and healthy people, but also their interdependence with one another
  3. Those who suffer rest their security, not on things, which often cannot be enjoyed and may soon be taken away, but rather on people.
  4. Those who suffer have no exaggerated sense of their own importance, and no exaggerated need of privacy. Suffering humbles the proud
  5. Those who suffer expect little from competition and much from cooperation
  6. Suffering helps us distinguish between necessities and luxuries
  7. Suffering teaches patience, often a kind of dogged patience born of acknowledged dependence
  8. Suffering teaches the difference between valid fears and exaggerated fears
  9. To suffering people, the Gospel sounds like good news and not like a threat or a scolding. It offers hope and comfort
  10. Those who suffer can respond to the call of the Gospel with a certain abandonment and uncomplicated totality because they have so little to lose and are ready for anything.

What do you think?

About Andy Lewis

Andy is an author, pastor, and musician who lives in Santa Cruz California. Currently he serves as lead pastor at Faith Community Church in Santa Cruz
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1 Response to Thanks For The “Great Equalizer”

  1. Ruth Orlando says:

    God has used the pain of suffering for significant changes in my life. And I too can see the value of this benefit to my life. Yes I can now say Thank you God for the pain.

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