In the summer of 1996, rheumatoid arthritis raged through my immune system like a dragon aroused from slumber. Without warning, pain overwhelmed me; I couldn’t even dress myself without help. Red welts and violent itching accompanied by high fevers made it almost unbearable.

My husband, Mike, put his own needs on hold to be there for me. He desperately wanted to protect and help me, but there was little he could do. The doctors gradually got the worst symptoms under control with heavy doses of medication, but for months I was left with debilitating fatigue. Sometimes the only thing I could accomplish in a day was to take a shower.

I remember one night when the pain was too much for me, and I lay in bed crying. Gradually I became aware of God’s presence. I thought of Christ weeping in John 11, and now I could almost feel His tears falling on me. It was amazing, almost unthinkable-God crying because of my pain.

The Psalms offer a beautiful picture of God gathering our tears as we suffer, and saving them in a bottle in Heaven (Psalm 56:8). I believe the Master Craftsman tirelessly works to transform those tears into heavenly treasure. Second Corinthians 4:16-17 tells us that our momentary affliction is “producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.”

Through this Scripture, I realized that by lying in bed, sick and unable to accomplish anything, I was actually achieving what I wanted most! I learned to fix my eyes on the eternal, and passionately desire those things for myself. Compared to eternity, our pain here is just a blink, like ripping a Band-Aid off, and the result is a glorious, eternal happiness that is outrageously out of proportion to our suffering here.

Perhaps your own struggles are much worse than mine. It doesn’t matter. You can rest in the goodness of God. He never wastes one drop of our suffering.

© 2008 by Cyndi Warren.  All rights reserved.