I’ve never been a knitter.
I tried it for a like a second and then realized I was terrible at it. This was mostly because the tiny dishcloth I was knitting resembled a trapezoid rather than a square.
Although my knitting dreams were crushed, the world was saved from unnecessary trapezoid shaped blankets that would’ve left their feet unbearably cold.
You’re welcome, world.
A Tapestry of Lives
Something I did take away from my brief stint of knitting was the allegorical meaning behind it.
I just love the idea of many different threads being knit into one beautiful piece of art.
Just as you can weave endless color variations to make one garment, so too, our lives have the ability to weave together seamlessly into one story.
Something every human has in common.
A while back I was at a woman’s retreat in a lovely, out-of-the-way conference center where our small groups were meeting up and sharing. We were asked to speak openly about an event or life experience that affected us and changed our lives.
I listened intently to each one of these women as we moved counter-clockwise and shared stories;
One had been through cancer.
Another had been through abuse.
And yet another had lost a friend to suicide.
One woman had a life untouched by real hurt but struggled with her value as a wife and mother.
I could see that each woman had real struggles, the pain was evident in every spilled tear and spoken word.
But something else was immediately apparent as well, the trials we shared just weren’t equal.
At least not from a human perspective.
A person going through cancer and someone struggling with their value just doesn’t seem comparable.
And clearly from our viewpoint down here on this whirling blue ball—they don’t.
But you know what?
In God’s eyes, all suffering is equal
It’s clear that just as God doesn’t see sin on levels. He doesn’t measure our suffering by some cosmic level of importance and only shows up to the important trials.
The difficulty in daily trials is that it’s so tempting to think they don’t matter. It’s easy to not share the things we find ourselves fighting daily because “so and so” is going through something so much worse.
When in truth, the little matters as much as the big.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind…1 Corinthians 10:13
You are not the first to go through the trial you are suffering through. There are others— there is an entire community that experiences the same thing as you.
For years I felt as though the suffering I endured was my own and no one else experienced anything like it.
And at the same time, I believed the lie that what I went through wasn’t equal to the suffering that others had been through. I believed I wasn’t important.
This thinking kept me isolated and made me believe I was a victim, rather than another victor with a story to share.
I was forgetting the most important part of the trials we endure—it’s the hope that comes out of them.
As humans, we see trials on levels of severity and deem that some are so much worse than others, but in reality, a wound is still a wound.
The hardships we face and the comfort we receive through them is precious gold to be shared, no matter how severe.
Enduring trials and tribulations births empathy, which serves a real purpose in moving us towards our fellow-man.
Our suffering serves a purpose.
In the depth of our personal trials, we can forget there is a benefit for others to be found. When we surface up out of the deep cavern of suffering, we emerge with nuggets of wisdom that no professor could ever teach.
Suffering truly is the greatest schoolmaster in empathy. The comfort and wisdom received in trials are meant to be shared with those that are walking the same hard road we’ve just traveled.
…Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4
The comfort God extends was never meant to be hidden away.
It was always meant to be shared.
Knowing our suffering serves a greater purpose helps to bring peace and perspective to our struggles.
I believe that once we see the hope that others can have through our trials we are able to have a measure of peace with that portion of our story.
Part of this is simply knowing we all suffer—to be human is to suffer in some way, shape or form.
In the end, I believe knowing what to do with it is the key.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What have you been through and what wisdom have you gained that could possibly help others?
- In what way can you be a blessing to someone else because of a strength you have gained through a personal struggle?
- Are you still walking a hard path today? If so, who can you reach out to that has gone through a similar struggle that you can glean wisdom from?
- Who can you bless in spite of the hardship you are going through? How can you take your eyes off of yourself and put them on someone else?
God designed us with a desire to love, to give comfort and to live within a community.
He never intended for us to live in a world where suffering is so prevalent, but as He loves to do, He takes the ugly and uses it for good.
Coming across another soul that has walked the same troubled path creates a bond.
It’s a sisterhood or brotherhood forged in the fire of adversity, and sometimes those are the strongest kind.