Redemption in Suffering

In yesterday’s post, I shared with you some of the positive and negative “story turns” in my life. “Story turns” are the events that happen to a character in a book that can’t be reversed. I learned about “story turns” at the STORYLINE CONFERENCE hosted by Donald Miller in Nashville last week. 

Donald had us take the “negative turns” in our life and think about them from a redemptive perspective. He was careful to point out it DOES NOT MEAN the positive outweighed the negative; it simply means painful circumstances can offer something redemptive.

I was honest in identifying the “negative story turns” in my life; there are 16 of them. As I sorted through them, I realized that six of them were deaths of family members and two were divorces.

With the deaths there is a redemptive perspective. I’ve come to realize that we are all mortal and that I can’t hang on to people forever, even if I would like to. We are all here on Earth according to God’s plan and experiencing those deaths has made me want to live in the present, enjoying each day and the people in it.

The divorces were extremely painful and immense failures of unmet dreams and realities. In looking at them from a redemptive perspective, I’ve come to realize that if I had not been single these past 4 years, I would never have experienced honorable relationships with men. The failure of the divorces caused my self-examination; I realized how manipulative and insecure I had been in personal relationships. Without this time of singleness, I would not have understood that I was the one that needed to change. Because of these painful failures, I started this blog so that many of us can share our experiences together.

Another negative “story turn” was supporting a family member when they needed rehabilitation for drug and alcohol addiction. It was very painful to see, but I realize that it has made me a more compassionate, less judging person who no longer demands perfection in myself or others. We all deserve God’s love.

There is one “negative turn” that I’m stuck on: having an affair with a married man during my freshmen year of college. Looking back, there is nothing right about it and it started me on a string of unhealthy relationships. I’m totally different now, but what was the redemptive perspective? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts—is there any redemption in this “negative turn”?

Although it took a lot of self-inspection, I was relieved and joyous when I got to the end of all the negative events in my life! Victor Frankl,  a psychologist in a German concentration camp said it best, “Suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment that it finds a meaning.”

When thinking about the suffering in your life, can you identify the meanings? Although they are still painful circumstances and should be grieved, they don’t have to keep us in suspended pain forever.



Redemption in Suffering- (click here for MP3 file)