As nurses, we regularly encounter suffering. We also suffer. Suffering is a part of life, and we all ask, Why?
I’ve asked a lot of why questions. Why could I never get pregnant? Why did my brother die at an early age? Why did Hurricane Matthew kill so many and wipe out more of Haiti’s infrastructure? Why did a friend get cancer? Why can’t we alleviate a patient’s severe pain?
There are no answers to these questions. And no answer will change fact that suffering happens, and it is awful.
It seems the more valid question is: How do we cope with suffering? The Bible teaches principles that help me deal with suffering:
- God is faithful through suffering and accomplishes bigger, even better, things than we can imagine. The most poignant example of this is Jesus who suffered to bring about the redemption of the world.
- We can learn through suffering. Suffering focuses our attention on God like nothing else; it molds our faith and character in profound ways. Suffering can accomplish God’s purposes in our lives as we cry out to him and learn to trust and follow him.
- Pain and suffering will end when God accomplishes the final redemption of the world. We will see for ourselves that “death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor 15:54).
Even if I never understand what God is doing in suffering, I’ve learned he is worthy of my trust.
As you face hard things, bring your pain and questions to God. Dig deeper into his Word and prayer. Trust God and learn to hold on to his strength and unfailing love.
I encourage you to improve your nursing practice and learn how to respond to suffering by reading our feature article, “Entering into Suffering: Becoming a Transformed and Transforming Healer,” in Journal of Christian Nursing, Jan/Mar 2017 (1.5 CE credits offered). This article hits home for nurses.
A suffering world awaits us.
Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner, PhD, RN
NCF National Director
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Christian Nursing