In 2010 the Suicide Prevention Committee at the University of Connecticut published the following statistics:
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among college students.
- Nearly 1,100 suicides are projected to occur on college campuses this year.
- One in twelve US college students has made a suicide plan.
- About 12 people between the ages of 15 and 24 will commit suicide today.
This is horrific. Every time I hear of a college student committing suicide my heart sinks. One of the things that I find most terrifying is that the potential for despair and inability to cope with suffering that often results in suicide is something that lies in the depth of all our beings. Believer or unbeliever, everyone has experienced suffering; everyone has felt hopeless.
Life is hard, but we must not allow our sufferings to consume us.
I came across Matthew Henry’s commentary of John 9 in Tim Challies’ blog post. It is a beautiful reminder of the purpose of our sufferings.
“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (John 9: 1-3)
Henry writes: “[Sufferings] are sometimes intended purely for the glory of God, and the manifesting of his works. God has a sovereignty over all his creatures and an exclusive right in them, and may make them serviceable to his glory in such a way as he thinks fit, in doing or suffering; and if God be glorified, either by us or in us, we were not made in vain. This man was born blind, and it was worth while for him to be so, and to continue thus long dark, that the works of God might be manifest in him…. He was born blind that our Lord Jesus might have the honour of curing him, and might therein prove himself sent of God to be the true light to the world. Thus the fall of man was permitted, and the blindness that followed it, that the works of God might be manifest in opening the eyes of the blind. It was now a great while since this man was born blind, and yet it never appeared till now why he was so.”
Our lives are not in vain because our suffering is not in vain. We must remember that God is always in control of every circumstance, and no matter what situation we find ourselves in, it is never irredeemable because God can always work to glorify Himself. We are not skilled to understand God’s will. Through our suffering, God intends to show Himself by declaring His glory. When we are able to understand that God will receive glory, we can be content even in suffering, knowing that we are part of a greater plan.
I find it interesting how often we hear of spiritual gifts and that everyone has unique strengths for a purpose; yet, we forget that it follows that we must all also have unique weaknesses that also serve a purpose. Do not be consumed by your sufferings. Take heart, and know that God will somehow make his glory known through us, just as he made his glory known through the blind man 2,000 years ago.
My suffering is a daily reminder that I am human. It is a daily reminder that I am not perfect. It is a daily reminder that I am a sinner saved by grace. It is a daily reminder that I am not worth in my own right. It is a daily reminder that I need God.