My dad had to sit me down and explain to me that they were necessary so I didn’t get sick. But never having actually gotten any of these serious diseases, I couldn’t comprehend the importance of those vaccines.
Suffice to say I eventually got the jabs, complete with tears and wails and post-shot ice cream to put a smile on my face.
But imagine if it went beyond shots. Imagine if it was something more serious. Something that required a much more painful procedure to save my life. All the pain, the tears and cries, the lack of understanding of why this was happening to me. And through it all, my dad would have to reassure me. To tell me it’s necessary and I had to go through it so that I would not die. That I would be made stronger. That I could live the life that he so hoped I would be able to live.
And therein lies the purpose of suffering.
The idea that God would ordain suffering and pain is something not many of us like the sound of. Why would God not only allow me to go through pain but actually will it?
Because it is part of His plan. There is a clear connection between joy and suffering in the New Testament. We are continually reminded to rejoice when we’re suffering, especially if it’s God’s will. (see James 1:2, 1 Peter 4:14, Hebrews 10:34, 2 Corinthians 8:2, Acts 5:41, Colossians 1:24, 1 Thessalonians 1:6, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Philippians 2:17, 1 Peter 3:17)
Ultimately, it bring deeper holiness and faith as we rely on Him. It also makes others bold when they see us willingly suffer for Christ, and it makes Christ’s suffering real and present for those that see it. Moreover, it often shakes us up to go places and do things that we might otherwise not want to—Jesus said his disciples would receive the Holy Spirit and go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. But up till the end of Acts 7, the church had grown and this great dispersal had not happened. Then Stephen was martyred, the church persecuted and SCATTERED, and the gospel spread far and wide! (see Acts 1:8, 8:1 & 11:19)
Most of all, the supremacy and greatness of Christ is made manifest in our suffering. When we find joy in Christ in the midst of suffering, He is glorified! Is that not the point of our lives? To bring glory to our Saviour?
The question then becomes: “Would you still follow Christ if you knew you would have to go through pain? Hurt? Persecution from others? Maybe even death?”
So then we come to the crux of the matter in my life — I am gay. Or more specifically, I have same sex attractions. There’s a difference between the attraction/temptation and the actual act. And I believe in Christian celibacy. So when people would ask me why I have to go through this mental and emotional pain for days, weeks, months, years and decades, I could only say “I don’t know”.
But these past few days I have learnt so much about suffering and its place in my life as a follower of Christ. There is purpose in my suffering. There is a reason that God willed it for me to have these attractions. Through the struggle, I grow and mature in faith. I become stronger, more able to resist sin and the evil and death it promises.
Through it all, my Father reassures me. Tells me it’s necessary and I have to go through it so that I will not die. That I will be made stronger. That I will be able to live the life that He so hopes I will be able to live. To deny myself everyday and seek Christ as my source of joy in suffering. Because in doing so, I remember that His Grace is sufficient for me, His strength sustains me, and most important of all, His Name is glorified.
Did God make me gay? Today I can say, “Yes. He did. Because he has a PURPOSE for my life.”