There's a wise teaching that whatever difficult things happen in one's life are opportunities to learn and grow. Many philosophies and sets of belief have their own statements and nuances on this basic principle; the explicitly Christian version of this teaching is that God only allows suffering to happen in the Christian person's life in order to enable a person to change and to help them relate to the suffering of other people. The experience of suffering is purposeful and always under God's eye.
This morning I was enabled to see the principle actively at work. Here were the stages:
1. Wake up with a stuffy head, a complaining tummy, and very tight back and neck muscles.
2. Read blog posts in my feed reader while munching breakfast. End with a post from Donald Miller's Storyline blog about how to react to suffering and difficulties.
3. Stumble off to write in my journaling notebook. Break into tears over feeling physically unwell and over the stresses of writing and work which I have been experiencing.
4. Remember the question I had read in a powerful article not one hour before. Ask Jesus the question, What do you have for me here?
5. Spend a good long time and many pages meditating on the roots of my fear and sadness about feeling ill (even lightly ill), and the reasons why I am so stressed and paralyzed in the face of finding and doing new work. Uncover several things which I needed to see about power, choice, and the profligate goodness of God.
6. Realize I have fodder for several articles now, based on what I have been scribbling and thinking.
7. Recognize the active principle which I have just embodied in my own self: suffering leads to goodness which wouldn't have otherwise happened. Without the setup of feeling achy, grouchy, and worried, would I have done the writing and thinking which ensued -- clarifying my own thoughts, giving me hope and a bit of peace, and also showing me ideas that might help or inspire other people?
An active lesson, written in a morning's difficulties and in conversation with a kind Teacher. I'm grateful.