The Hand and Glove of Suffering and Blessing
"Never to suffer would never to have been blessed." Edgar Allan Poe
I've had a long affinity for Poe. Perhaps it's because he was raised in my hometown. Maybe it's because I was sickened by the horror of "The Tell-Tale Heart." Or I was drawn in by the eerie feelings evoked in 7th grade when I read "The Cask of Amontillado." Whatever the reason, I currently find my interest turning back to him, living close to Sullivan's Island, the setting for "The Gold Bug."
Poe was no stranger to suffering. An orphan at the age of 2, his life was marked by a series of tragic events. Loss. Lack of unconditional love. Betrayal. Rejection. His death was no exception and remains shrouded in mystery and speculative theories.
The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:17-18, "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
Suffering pulls things into perspective. It's a reminder that we were created for more than this transient world can offer. It's interesting to consider the suffering of Paul, which he referred to as light and momentary. He was beaten, stoned, imprisoned, rejected, threatened, pursued, and wrestled with a thorn in the flesh. Yet, he kept perspective on what mattered—eternity.
This is a challenge for me. Will I allow hardship to propel my perspective towards the eternal? Or will struggles rob me of experiencing joy over the many blessings God has bestowed?
Father, fill me with grace to maintain an eternal perspective, to realize that this earth is temporal. Teach me to focus on blessings over disappointments. Give me eyes to see that the beauty of suffering is that it teaches gratitude. May my life be marked with thankfulness for Your goodness.