You've probably been there: everyone in your small group is sharing prayer requests and they're all going through heavy stuff, but you don't know what to say because you had a really good week. You've certainly had hard times before, but right now things are actually going quite well. You are heartbroken for your friends, so you feel almost guilty for not suffering. Historically, Christians have endured lots of suffering---Jesus being the prime example---so you might feel like maybe you're doing something wrong if you're feeling pretty good.
Several friends have expressed feeling this way lately, and I've felt this way too, so I want to offer a few quick points of encouragement if this is you.
1) It's not helpful to compare suffering.
Comparison in general is not a beneficial way to think, because you'll always find someone doing better than you and you'll always find someone doing worse than you. Don't feel guilty that you're sad about your stressful job when your friend has been unemployed for a year. Don't condemn yourself for crying about not getting pregnant after four months just because you know people who have been trying to get pregnant for four years. God cares about both trials, He meets both of you wherever you are, and He makes joy available to both of you. Suffering shouldn't be isolating, but our natural bent is to make it that way. Though we must be sensitive to our sisters in pain, drifting away from friendships is usually not what suffering people need. We should be pursuing unity and closeness all the more!
2) God gives seasons.
It's good for our hearts to revisit Ecclesiastes 3 regularly.
There is a time to break down, and a time to build up.
A time to tear, and a time to sew.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
Sometimes your life will feel like everything is being broken down and torn. If you haven't experienced that yet, it's only because you haven't lived long enough. Sin has ravaged this once-beautiful world so pervasively that you will surely feel the effects of it at some point.
However, "weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning" (Psalm 30:5.) You will most likely also experience times in your life when God restores you on some level and you can feel like you have some stability again. If you're reading this, you are probably in that condition right now. Receive it as a gift from Him and don't waste it (more on that in a second.) God writes the perfect prescriptions every single time.
3) Right now you are freed up to bear the burdens of others.
When your own difficulties are beating you down, it's possible to still care for others in your pain, like when Jesus was literally on the cross but He made sure His mother would be taken care of. But when you aren't experiencing much pain yourself, your heart has so much more capacity for compassion. When your free time is not spent weeping and enduring, you are free to encourage, to give little gifts, to make meals, to listen to friends cry on the phone, to serve. When you have fewer troubles on your plate, there's room for scooping some on from others. When a friend or acquaintance shares awful news with you, you have the emotional bandwidth to process it and genuinely be sad with them. You also might have the clarity of mind to see past the pain and offer hope when it's needed. That is a huge privilege, and eventually you will really need someone to be there for you in the same way.
Don't assume that you will drift into bearing the burdens of others. Our drift is always toward selfishness. But if you want a rich and meaningful life, you will follow Jesus onto the self-sacrificing path of love.
4) Right now you can prepare your heart and mind for rougher times.
When the waters are calm, you can get ready for the storms. In between battles, there's a time to rest and recover, but there's also a time to sharpen your weapons and practice your archery. Cliche metaphors aside, take this time seriously to fill your mind with truth. Store up God's Word in your heart. While you can still think clearly, etch onto your heart things that you'll need to know when you're in the middle of a fog or a panic attack. My friend's grandma has Alzheimer's, and it's amazing that she can't remember my name and she'll probably forget what I told her thirty seconds ago, but she can remind me of "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Years and years of knowing Jesus and memorizing His Word have stuck with her even when almost nothing else has.
There's no way you can know exactly what you'll need in the future, but God's Word is quite sufficient. Study every part of the Bible so you can be swept away by God's character again and again and become ever more deeply convinced of Christ's love for you. You need truth now, but you'll also need it later.
Whether you're going through something really hard or you're struggling emotionally but you're not sure why or your heart just feels really happy and light, God sees and He knows. The numerous examples in the Bible of weak people in all kinds of weird situations should testify to God's all-encompassing grace that meets us wherever we are. Take heart, friend, and don't waste this season :)
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a former skater dude, and raising little people ages 5, 3, 1, and not-yet-born. I like lime green and sarsaparilla, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today