I had the opportunity to attend a conference last weekend. It was 3 very full days of workshops and lectures. I heard some wonderful speakers and took a lot in. Yet the one thing that left a lasting impression on me, stood out over all the professional speakers, was a conversation I had with a beautiful 17 year old girl.
We just finished dinner, and were waiting for our last speaker to take the stage. A young girl came over and quietly sat down at the table next to me. We sat there for a few minutes in silence when I said Hi. She looked up and smiled and we started to talk. We made small talk for a few minutes then things got a little deeper. She started to share with me her excitement in the fact that she would be leaving for college in 2 weeks, a day she never thought would happen. She proceeded to share very openly what it has been like to live with severe depression and anxiety for the past 6 years. She was very thankful that in the last year it seemed to have lifted significantly. She said , I do still have some bad days, yet now, they don't defeat me like they used to. I am able to get through them knowing they won't last. She said the hardest part has been the fact that no one, neither family nor friends was able to truly understand what she was feeling in those deepest depressing times. She felt very alone yet knew God was and continues to be with her. She holds tight to his promises in the hard days. The next words took me by surprise. With such joy and peace she said " I know what it is like to feel alone, believing that no one understands. If I can help just one other person in the midst of my struggle to know they are not alone, I believe my purpose for going through all this will be fulfilled!" My eyes filled with tears. I realized what a beautiful gift she has to give to others, the gift of truly understanding what they might be going through.
"In our suffering we often ask the question Why? Why, because it is not suffering that destroys a person, it is suffering without a purpose ." Job; The wisdom of the Cross. Christopher Ash
There are many reasons why God might allow trials and suffering in our life . I do know one reason is that suffering prepares us to be able to come along side others who are struggling. It brings us to a place of deep compassion, and mercy which allows us to say with complete honesty, " I get it, I understand!" Sometimes that is all they need to know, they are not alone and that someone truly understands. God has purpose in our trials. Once in a while he lets us SEE that purpose. That girl at such a young age has suffered much. Although still struggling, she is seeking to minister to others. Offering them the gift that was given to her. The gift of hope, and joy she has found through Christ! The gift of understanding. What an encouragement she was to me!