Why We’re Writing: My Suffering Is Deep
By Margaret Bronson
In one sense, writing for this blog is the most natural and enjoyable thing for me. It combines all of my dearest passions: love of studying God, writing, friends, and building my local church—specifically the women. However, this blog is starting in the middle of a season of life in which I’m struggling to express all the turmoil of my soul, even to my husband. My family has gone through many bouts of suffering; my heart is sore, tired, and longing for heaven. In the last year, my family has gone through EIGHT hospitalizations, one high-risk pregnancy, and the birth of one high-needs baby. We have received six separate meal trains of two weeks each and missed out on dozens of opportunities for fellowship and refreshment. The intensity of the storm we are in has challenged every bit of my theology. I find myself needing a remedial class in things I felt certain I understood.
And this is why I write:
My theology is imperfect. When I am suffering, I tend to shut down and fear that God is punishing me. I look at my circumstances and make deductions about God based on them. But through this last year, I’ve learned that God lets me wrestle and try to understand. God is not insulted by my humanness but reveals Himself to me through times of pain and suffering. It is humbling, yet freeing, to realize that my faith does not have to be perfect. There is still much sanctification to be done in me. I learn humility and sanctification in my not-yet-glorified state of suffering.
Writing and studying keeps me humble and teachable in the face of suffering. To suffer well, you must have a right view of God. Suffering shows me where my theology is lacking or wrong. Through suffering and a surrendered heart, God chisels into our hearts and minds and reveals Himself to build our faith. We cannot grow in faith outside of the work of the Lord. I am humbled that my faith is not as strong as I thought, and I still have to ask elementary questions like “how can a good God do this?” In my human strength, I can teach my brain true things about God, but only God can reveal himself to me or fill my heart with knowledge of who He truly is. Only He can make me more like Him.
Only God can take knowledge and make it experience. It is one thing to know that God is available and loving; it is another matter to see His love everywhere around me, even in the saddest and bleakest hours, displayed through my husband, children, church, and His Word. Suffering provides a kind of theological study you cannot get from a book.
It is good for believers to wrestle together to point one another to the Lord. It is good for other believers, who have not been touched by suffering and who think theology is an easy, open-and-shut subject, to learn to give grace to other believers. What little I’ve learned I hope to share for the edification and encouragement of others. Christian literature for women and by women is often grievously anorexic. The resources for deep, sound theology for women–deep and sound enough to adequately prepare and equip me for my suffering–are sadly few and far between.
So, while the timing is insane (we just came out of three week-long hospitalizations in a month and a half), writing this blog is so good for my soul. When suffering hits, I can run to my Savior’s arms, clear my whole schedule, and spend hours communing with God. I don’t have to work harder to make it better or try to put on a brave face in suffering so others can see how well Christians suffer. I just get to suffer with God. I can jump into the deep end of the pool, closely examine a small aspect of who God is, and study, process, and write about it. God has been faithful to apply what I’ve been learning to my suffering, and my smallness and loneliness become engulfed in the wonder, power, majesty, sovereignty, and love of my Father.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5