Joy In Suffering

14 years ago this past week, my wife, Kayla went into labor 8 1/2 months into her pregnancy with  a “weird feeling”. We were nervous, but excited about the arrival of our son, Levi Joseph Massey. However, there was a complication with his life support internally while he was still in the womb and by the end of the evening we had lost our son. We would not have the opportunity to raise him, to teach him about life, to teach him about Jesus, or how to be a Godly man. We wouldn't be able to watch him wrestle with his big brother, Ryan or become a big brother himself to our children that would come after him.

For context, the human body of a female carries between 9 and 10 pints of blood, and due to a placental abruption, Kayla lost between 7 to 8 of those pints. After about 14 hours of pumping plasma and blood back into her body, the doctors told us that if she had arrived 15 minutes later to the hospital, there was no way she could have lived, but she did. God saw fit to sustain her life and bring her to a full recovery. So, over the last 14 years, Kayla and I have had the honor of raising our oldest son, Ryan(15), our middle son, Ryder(12), and our youngest son, Ryatt(2). Kayla is healthy and alive, and our marriage is stronger than it has ever been.

My reason for sharing this story with you is not to get attention. It's not to receive remorseful comments from others. I share this story because I believe that God wants to use it to encourage those who may be suffering in a similar way.

My wife and our family went through what felt like hell when we lost our son. There were moments where it seemed like we were all alone, and that there was no way we could make it through this. It brought so much heart ache, it brought challenges to each one of us that nearly crushed our marriage.…..I am thankful for the suffering. You see, the suffering has played a huge part in shaping Kayla and I into the man and woman that we are today. It has taught us what long suffering with your spouse should look like. It taught us what community with others looks like, and how to love and serve others before yourself when their life is falling apart. It has led us into deeper dependence upon Jesus for comfort when nothing else could. This suffering brought us to an end of ourselves in a way that deepened our faith and trust in the Father, believing that He would be with us in the midst of our suffering, and He was. It brought us to a place of desperation for Him that we had never felt before, and I never want to go back to trying to survive on my own.

The loss of my son certainly wasn't the way I would have preferred to learn what trusting and resting in Jesus looked like, but that is what God saw necessary to lead us there. So, in spite of my personal preferences (that my son would have lived and still be alive today), I choose to trust God the Father, as in…God, the One who Created the universe in 6 days, and the One who loved so much that He sent His Son Jesus (the Messiah) to provide life to those who are dead. Life for those who are hurting and feeling alone and hopeless. Life for the broken, the drug addict, the prostitute, the sexual deviant, the liar, the hypocrites, the republicans, the democrats, the selfish money lovers, the thieves, the drunks, the atheists, the agnostics, the people questioning their sexuality, the “Christians” who think they are better than everyone else, the sonless mom’s, the absent dads, the abusers, the depressed, the anxious, the cutters  and the ones who are ready to just give up and end it all. There is life available for all of us, and this life has given me a hope and a promise, and that life that has been given to me through the perfect and complete work of Jesus and His sacrifice on a bloody cross when He died in my place to pay the price for my sin, my darkness, and my rebellious depravity. For my sin of thinking that I can get this thing called “life” done by myself through my own efforts and my own power.

I am grateful for the suffering that Kayla and I have experienced because I know that God is sovereign and has a plan, and I know that He is faithful. His track record proves it. So even though it hurts to suffer, God the Father is wiser and smarter than I am, and He knows what is best, and I know that all who are hurting and suffering can rest in Him and trust Him with our suffering.

I know that this part of our lives has been used and will continue to be used to love and serve others when they are in the midst of their suffering. I know that I am better equipped now to relate to and to talk to others who have suffered loss and pain because I have suffered loss and pain. Hebrews 4:15 says "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." Just as God allowed His Son to experience suffering and pain just as we do so that He could sympathize with us, I believe He also allows His sons and daughters of today to experience hurt and pain so that we can sympathize with others. Just as God has worked IN our brokenness to draw us closer to Him, He also intends to work THROUGH our brokenness to draw others to Him as well.

You see, I can talk about the hope, love, and peace of the Father because I have felt the the hope, love and peace of the Father. I can say that there is joy in suffering because I have felt joy in suffering.

I can say this with confidence because I have searched for comfort and peace through so many other things in my life, whether through people, pornography, friendships, family members, music, art, etc…EVERY ONE of those things failed me and was never enough to heal or bring a lasting peace or comfort. It was only when I finally said “ok, God, I’m done, you take over” did I find a lasting peace. 14 years later, I still feel hurt and feel sadness that my son is not present with me today. But yet I remain stable and at peace because I trust that God is redeeming and using my loss for His gain and His glory.

Every day of our lives, the good and the bad is a part of God’s story and plan to reveal His power and glory to the World, and I know that He has chosen me to be a part of that story and I am honored to fill my role in it.

We can trust Jesus because He is trustworthy, We may not understand all of His ways and reasons right now, but one day it will all make sense. But for now…just trust Him….For me, it has certainly been better than trying to control everything myself…It never works out well for me.

If you are suffering and need hope, I know where you can find it…His name is Jesus, and Jesus is better.

- Josh Massey