Allowing Suffering To Make Us, Not Break Us

By Rachael St. Germain

God's Brave Women - Rachael's Story


Most of us have a hate-hate relationship with suffering and want to avoid it at all cost. It can be hard to own up to this truth, though, because it goes against everything we’ve been taught to believe.

Throughout the Bible, we’re told that suffering is a good thing. Something God uses for us to free us from the things that are ruining us and shape us into the people He intends us to be.

Teachers like James and Paul even go so far as to encourage us to rejoice in suffering and count trials as blessings. We’re encouraged to allow our hard things to “hurt so good” because ultimately, they produce good things for us. Like endurance, character, and a closer relationship with God. (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4)

Well, this sounds all well and good.

But can I be honest?

Admittedly, the whole “give thanks for your problems” thing has always been a struggle for me. I mean, I wish I could always see hardships as opportunities God’s using for me. But in reality, it can sometimes feel like hard things are happening to me.


 

"I wish I could always see hardships as opportunities God’s using for me. But in reality, it can sometimes feel like hard things are happening to me."

 

When life doesn’t go as planned, I’m tempted to click into victim and start asking questions like:

Why is this happening to me, God?

Why won’t you rescue me from this mess?

When will this all finally be over?

The truth is, I want the good things Scripture promises suffering will do for me. But sometimes, I wish I could just skip over that whole “walking through it” part.


 

"The truth is, I want the good things Scripture promises suffering will do for me. But sometimes, I wish I could just skip over that whole “walking through it” part."

 

For the past several years, I’ve been on a Wilderness journey to recover from a life-threatening eating disorder. It’s a chapter I never would have chosen to write into my story if given the option.


But as hard and excruciating as my road to recovery has been, I can honestly say it’s one of the best things that ever happened to me.


Anorexia forced me to get real with myself and God. It helped me see there were things I valued more than God (even though I told myself He was my number one priority). And there were wounds from my past that needed to be healed, because they were limiting my potential and causing me to chase after things that would ultimately destroy me.


Walking with God through this past season of my life has helped me see suffering in a different light.


Instead of the worst thing, I can now see that hardship is a good thing. Even when I don’t like it.


Sometimes we need to walk through things we don’t really want to walk through in order for God to provide us with exactly what we need.


 

"I can now see that hardship is a good thing. Even when I don’t like it. Sometimes we need to walk through things we don’t really want to walk through in order for God to provide us with exactly what we need."

 

The truth is, none of us is exempt from suffering. We can’t avoid hardship or control what happens to us in life. But we can control how we respond.


 

"The truth is, none of us is exempt from suffering. We can’t avoid hardship or control what happens to us in life. But we can control how we respond."

 

In my experience, the key to allowing suffering make me better instead of bitter is staying rooted in the right perspective. It’s not always easy to shift the narrative on suffering. Especially when we’re in the thick of it.

So to help you out, I wanted to share a few “radiant perspectives” to help you see the light if/when you find yourself stuck in a dark place. I hope these truths help encourage and empower you to keep fighting forward.


Radiant Perspective #1: Suffering Is A Gift (Not a Disruption)

Hardship can sometimes feel like an unwanted disruption from the “good life” we’d rather be living. But I wonder what if a disruption isn’t such a bad thing? What if it’s actually a gifted wake-up call from God?

Sometimes we can get so caught up in striving after better tomorrows that it distracts us from the opportunities God has for us today. We can be so busy chasing down our dreams, we end up sleepwalking through life and not even realizing it.

Suffering has a way of waking us up.

 

"Sometimes we can get so caught up in striving after better tomorrows that it distracts us from the opportunities God has for us today."

 

It reminds us what’s important in life. 


It helps us be honest about the things we truly value. 


It encourages us to ask those big, important life questions like, “Why did God put me here? What is my true purpose in life? What kind of legacy do I want to leave?”


So lean into that suffering, Friend. See it as a gift to help you step into the higher calling God’s placed on your life and live each day to its fullest.


Radiant Perspective #2: Hardship Is For You (Not Against You)

When it feels like we’re being pressed in from all sides, it can feel tempting to start asking, “Why is this happening, God? Why are you allowing this to happen to me?”

In my experience, wrestling with God over the “why’s” of my suffering never makes the hard things any easier. If anything, it only makes matters worse.

Personally, a way more empowering and productive approach to help me grow through challenges is to focus on the “what’s” of my situation instead.

Asking “what” instead of “why” shifts us from Victim to Victor.


We’re able to use our pain and learn from it when we ask, “What do you have for me here, Lord? What are you trying to teach me?”


 

"Asking “what” instead of “why” shifts us from Victim to Victor. We’re able to use our pain and learn from it when we ask, “What do you have for me here, Lord?"

 

“What” helps us try to see things from God’s perspective. It helps us start embracing our trials as tools God’s using to help us step into our full potential and prepare us for something greater.

Radiant Perspective #3: Your Pain Is Preparation

There are times when I get sick of fighting. After years and years of the same old battle against anorexia, there are times when I wonder, “Will I ever be done with this? How much longer, Lord? Is there any point to all this fighting?”


When we’re in the thick of a darkness, it can be hard to see the point of our pain.


But we need to remember there are things happening beneath the surface in every Wilderness story. God uses those dark and desolate places to grow our roots deep and shape us into the people we need to be in order to accomplish the good things He has planned.


 

"God uses those dark and desolate places to grow our roots deep and shape us into the people we need to be in order to accomplish the good things He has planned."

 

On the surface, it may seem like all your fighting is fruitless. But there are shifts happening inside, Friend. Trust God to finish the good work He’s started in you. He’ll move you into the harvest season of your journey as soon as you’re good and ready.


 

This week marks the LAST BRAVE WOMEN SERIES GIVEAWAY!

It's been a joy to collaborate with so many amazing women and bless others with over $3,500 in gift cards and gifts. This is the FINAL one and trust me, we are ending with a bang! :)




As I've heard back from previous winners, it makes me smile to see what God is doing. Some have told me receiving these gifts was an answer to prayer. Some said they are using the money to help family or give to charity. Let me tell you, Jesus is always moving to bring truth, goodness, and love into the world, even in these giveaways. I'm kinda sad it's the LAST...

But we are ending it BIG! This month I am partnering with 14 ladies who have written for the series to BLESS TWO LUCKY WINNERS with prizes valued around $475!

Winner 1: $225 Gift card of your choice (yes, you read that right!)

Winner 2: Brave Women Bundle (you can take a look at the goodies below) valued at $250+ including:

* Be Strong and Courageous Shirt from the Brave Women Boutique

* Brave Mug from the Brave Women Boutique

* Loved and Cherished by Lynn Cowell & Michelle Nietert

* Tending by the Word Journal by Mariel Davenport

* Reclaimed by Stephanie Broersma + 3 sticker decals

* The Struggle is Real But So Is God by Misty Phillip

* Nativity Garland by Casey Hilty

* Make Your Move Bible Study by Lynn Cowell + the DVD teaching video

* Quinn’s Promise Rock by Christie Thomas

* DaySpring’s Sweet Tea for the Soul: Comforting, Real-Life Stories for Grieving Hearts

* Sonship: A Journey Into the Father’s Heart by M. James Jordan

* Prayer Journal for Women by Shannon Roberts

* Sweeter Than Honey by Patsy Burnette

* “Winter Beauty” Matted Art Print by DJ Hejtmanek

* Natural Gemstones Leather Wrap Bracelet by AD Beads

* $15 Starbucks Card

Thank you for your time and investment in this series! I've loved creating these giveaways for you. Click the button below to enter the final one... All of God's best to you, Dear Reader!




 

About Rachael


Rachael is a former ideal-striving, corporate-ladder-climbing business woman turned writer, speaker, and mindset coach. She is passionate about helping women break free from self-doubt and “should be” striving so they feel empowered to embrace the persons God created them to be.


As a recovering perfectionist, Rachael can empathize with those who struggle with anxiety and feel pressured to live up to the expectations of others. She invites others into her story, including her journey through eating disorder recovery, to expose how striving after ideals and seeking external validation is not only exhausting and unfulfilling, but also dangerous.


Rachael roots for the underdog, celebrates uniqueness, and values authenticity and community. One of her favorite hobbies includes hiking the streets of San Francisco (where she lives) in search of street art and Farmers’ Markets with her hilarious husband, Sean, and adorable dog, Chloe.


Connect with her at www.rachaelstgermain.com. Or follow Rachael on Instagram and Facebook.