2 Corinthians 4:1-18, Romans 6:5-7, 2 Timothy 4:3
When my youngest daughter was only about 25 weeks in the womb, we thought we had lost her. My wife hadn’t felt her move in over 24 hours, so she called the doctor’s office. Thinking she was overreacting, she was relatively calm when she dialed the number. But after explaining her symptoms to the nurse, she was told to come in for an immediate ultrasound.
When my wife texted me that news, I rushed home from the office. I made a 40-minute drive in 20 minutes, racing as fast as I could to be at my wife’s side when the ultrasound was performed. I cried the whole way home, begging God to save my baby’s life.
As it turned out, the ultrasound said that everything was basically fine, aside from a few things they wanted to monitor in the following weeks. Most importantly, my little girl was alive. Whether God revived her due to my prayers, or it was simply an overreaction on our part, we thanked God. Of course, even without that scare, every time her heart took a beat, it was a miracle. He is the God of life, and He’s the only one who controls it.
Paul tells the Corinthian church that any suffering in life is meant for God’s glory through the thanksgiving of His people. I tell this story about my daughter often, primarily as a way to comfort others who have had similar experiences. As Paul says, “this momentary light affliction” was for our benefit, so that we could increase in faith and overflow in testimony (2 Corinthians 4:17).
It’s not always easy in times of suffering, persecution, or trial to remember that these difficult seasons are brief in comparison to eternity with God. Paul gives this advice multiple times in his letters, no doubt because he had to learn to be content in all circumstances in his own life. Paul wasn’t perfect—he surely struggled at times to believe in God’s goodness in the midst of his many difficulties—but that didn’t make his testimony any less true. In fact, we can trust Paul’s advice precisely because he experienced so many afflictions.
The fear of losing my daughter wasn’t my first struggle in this lifetime, and it certainly won’t be my last. Life is fragile. The world is broken. Terrible things happen every single day. But because of my trials and tears and begging God for mercy, I now believe in Him more than ever before. And I pray He continues to use our stories to encourage others.
Written by Brandon D. Smith