"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."
1 Peter 4: 12-13
"Suffering does not mean that God's plan has failed. It is the plan. Suffering is a sign that we are in the family of Christ and the army of the kingdom. We suffer because we carry his name. We suffer so that we may know him more deeply and appreciate his grace more fully. We suffer so that we may be part of the good he does in the lives of others."
"Even our suffering does not belong to us but to the Lord. Perhaps it is easier to recognize that our blessings belong to the Lord than it is to recognize that he owns our sufferings... A whole host of self-absorbed temptations greet us when we treat suffering as something that belongs to us. This passage reminds us that our suffering belongs to the Lord. It is an instrument of his purpose in us and others. The way we suffer must put Christ on center stage. The Redeemer owns our disappointment and fear. He owns our physical and spiritual pain. He owns those crushing past experiences. He owns our rejection and aloneness. He owns our dashed expectations and broken dreams. It all belongs to him for his purpose. When we feel like dying, he calls us to a greater death. He calls us to die to our suffering so that we may live for him." (Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands, by Paul David Tripp)
This was part of my morning read, and worth repeating here as a reminder. Our sufferings--both the aggravating and the crushing--belong to him and were delivered to us with love for a holy purpose. What a relief it is to understand this truth! There is freedom to put away self-pity, anger, and discontentment, to be released from the debilitating weight of it all. By the grace of God there is freedom and power to die to our suffering so that we may live for him.