"In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." - 1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV
"It was worth it - if I went through cancer so I could sit here today and encourage you in your faith - then I'd do it again."
I couldn't believe it. The very words I swore I'd never utter were flowing out of my mouth.
Sitting across from a hurting friend whose pain I could only empathize with because I too had "been there," the phrase effortlessly came out of me without any hesitation or pause.
I barely recognized what I said at first.
It was one of those moments where it felt like I was in a movie and time stopped. My thoughts built a story around what was happening in the crowded coffee shop.
Instead of cursing cancer or feeling sorry for myself, I instead spoke about cancer graciously. In fact, the worst thing in my life became a positive.
Like a beautiful perennial that had been pruned, split and then buried under harsh winter weather, it felt like I was starting to appear again from down below the dirt, ready to open up.
My friend continued talking, not realizing the major milestone I'd just reached. I didn't believe I'd ever see fighting cancer as "worth it."
Yet time had healed more than my belly wounds and heart; it also healed my faith.
Through faith alone could I see my cancer as a positive experience, because it ultimately brought me closer to God. Only through faith could my experience be used to inspire, love, support and encourage others.
Sure, I'd done a lot of great things to help other survivors and share my story, but it was my faith that ultimately offered people eternal hope when bad news and the obituaries kept coming.
Joy in Suffering
Many New Testament writers allude to this hope all throughout the Bible, yet I'd never reached it until that day. Joy in suffering felt like a lofty goal, a nice verse to print on a Hallmark card.
Yet in that coffee shop booth it happened - divine purpose and calling met me in my pain.
Ever since that day, I've thought of my suffering differently.
It hasn't taken away the painful moments full of dread, and it's not removed my frustration and setbacks. I still get sick, and I can still get down on some days.
It's hard to welcome trials of all kinds.
Yet these days, suffering isn't my weakness, but it's my bridge. It's the connection to an invisible world that promises me one day, all pain will be gone. It's what makes the story of Jesus, my most favorite story of all, so very real to me.
He suffered so I'd have life, and if my suffering brings someone else life, then by all means yes - it was worth it.
Prayer: Father, help me trust in your promises that say my trials will result in praise.