Your Suffering is Making Your Bed

I tried explaining to Dad how tired I have been watching my life regress.

I’ve stopped being myself. My grades are falling, I haven’t followed my budget lately, and I’m less talkative.

It’s been one of those seasons where I have asked time and time again, “Why, God?” My medicine seemed to be working—I felt like Cody. Why, then, did God think it necessary to make everything disagreeable again?

Suffering sucks, point blank. Pain is miserable. Loneliness is paralyzing. Joylessness is the worst imaginable reality when I know in the deepest parts of my heart that joy lies at the end of this world and the eternality of the next.

I’m creeping up on a decade of this, and that’s starting to feel like a really long time to “let go and let God.” At this rate, I don’t see myself ever being not-depressed again. Take self-deprecation out of the picture: I feel irreparably broken and unconditionally unlovable.

God Booked Your Room a Long, Long Time Ago on a Hill Far, Far Away

While what we call “our own life” remains agreeable we will not surrender it to Him. What then can God do in our interests but make “our own life” less agreeable to us, and take away the plausible sources of false happiness? It is just here, where God’s providence seems at first to be most cruel, that the divine humility, the stooping down of the Highest, most deserves praise.
– C. S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain

To use Lewis’s words, making pain palatable to you is “beyond my design,” so I don’t see the point in trying to do so. But I, like Lewis, think there’s something to be said for growing in Christ as we suffer together.

The promise holds true: depression is making my bed for me. I believe it with every ounce of my being, for better or for worse—and I think it could be making yours, too.

Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.
2 Corinthians 4:16–17 (CSB)

There is a connection between your present suffering and the suffering of Christ on the cross. When Christ hung on Calvary’s cross, he was booking you a room in your Father’s house and fronting the bill once and for all. He was saying suffering wouldn’t win, even if we must endure it for a short while.

In fact, your suffering is actually doing something for you because it is helping you surrender to Christ what should have been his in the first place: your everything.

You don’t have to fight for peace—it has been secured for you, even when you feel restless. Your bed is waiting for you in eternity, and with every hard day or long year, you are being prepared for the irreplaceable comforts of your Father’s love.

I don’t really have an argument to make here other than this: in the steadfast love of God, your suffering is not without purpose.

Like me, you may be tired of it. Like me, you may feel at your lowest. Like me, you may feel like you’ve wrecked everything you’ve ever held close to your chest—and you may be terrified to surrender it to God again. But, like Lewis said, if your life remains agreeable you will never seek resolve in God.

Stop trying to pull back the sheets. (We all know how hard fitted sheets are to change, anyway.) Trust in the love of Christ and know your suffering is not without use, even if you feel afflicted without reason.

After all, it’s making your bed for you. You’ve got nothing else to do.

Cody Barnhart

Cody Barnhart (@codygbarnhart) lives in Maryville, Tennessee, and is an MDiv student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He attends Pleasant Grove at College Street, where he is a church planting intern.