Sunset

Making Sense of Suffering

The verse jumped off the page when I first read it. Written by the wisest person who ever lived, Solomon penned his life journal in the book titled Ecclesiastes. To be honest, I hadn’t spent much time in Ecclesiastes, probably because I would get stuck in the two books before it—Psalms and Proverbs—which mix swaying emotions with sure direction.

Ecclesiastes can also be a downer for those who like ticker tape parades. I know that life isn’t always a celebration, but if life had the power to make me happy, this is not a book I would bring to the party. That sounds so flighty, but it is true. I and plenty of other people on earth may wish or have wished that life would provide a pleasant sense of happy fulfillment . . . period. Easy-breezy, I love it!

But that’s not life and that’s not reality, and you may be finding that out the hard way . . . clinging to your dreams and wishes with white-knuckled fists; finding the tighter you grip those wishful illusions, one by one they slip away . . . POOF!

Maybe you are asking the question, “Is this all there really is . . . are you kidding me?” I’ve asked that more than once, if it helps you to know you are not alone.

However, life has a way of revealing God’s truth over time, and if one is brave enough or tired of trying to find “happyland” and wants to know the truth, it is clearly summarized in Ecclesiastes.

Reality

A few years back, I fumbled my way into the wisdom Ecclesiastes offers. I was learning that life was never created to subsidize one’s happiness; one loss after another continued to reveal that fact. It’s not the most popular thing to say one isn’t satisfied with God or at least thankful for something, but that’s where I was. Longing for peace and a way to make sense of it all, one verse jumped off the page. Ecclesiastes 7:3 says, “Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us” (NLT).

You know when something’s been stuck in your throat and it finally gets unstuck? That’s what it felt like to swallow God’s truth. Finally, finally I experienced relief and could breathe. There is purpose in sorrow. Pain doesn’t afflict us because God is mean or because we lack faith. God uses pain to carve our character. He uses pain to make us well.

Let Me Hear from You

Maybe you are trying to be happy, but your heart and face don’t reflect the same truth. Maybe you are so disappointed and disillusioned with life that you want to . . . to scream or cry or sob or just let it go. Allow the sorrow to do its influencing, powerful work. The comments section below is for us to connect further should you desire.

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Pray with Me

Lord, I bring my life to You because I can’t handle it like it is on my own. I’ve tried to find meaning in the mess. I’ve prayed and asked You to remove the challenges I cannot face on my own, and instead, You have allowed them to shape me. You see the finished product; I only see the mess. Will You take these pieces and provide what is needed, so I may know You and live with hope like never before?

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