“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2 NLT
This verse and many more recently helped me overcome a tremendous trial in my life. On October 31st at 6:40 am on my way to class, I experienced what would be one of the most impactful moments in my life thus far - my motorcycle accident - when a minivan ran a stop sign and caused me to crash face-first into a car. Time all but stopped and I saw myself frame-by-frame as I pumped down hard on the brakes with my foot and held on for dear life. The next thing I knew, I was flying through the air and then I was completely upside down with the car under my head and my feet in the sky. On this cold Miami morning, a morning that should've been like any other, I found myself lying on the road with people rushing towards me from all angles as I laid in utter shock. I laid confused because I couldn’t move and in pain as I looked at my broken right hand.
My thoughts and feelings raced through my mind as the paramedics strapped me into a stretcher and rushed me to the hospital. I was overwhelmed by pain as the doctors asked me questions to better help me. I began to wrestle with myself and God as I wondered “Why? Why did with this happen to me?” Although I was very confused for a few days about my situation, I did learn that in times of crisis and suffering is when you learn a lot about those around you. I realized who really cared about me and who didn’t, which turned out to be the people I least suspected. It was a real eye-opener and it led me to make major changes to my friendship circles; changes that I have never regretted once to this day. Not only that, but in the midst of this trial, I was able to lean on my mom as she motivated me to stay faithful. She was with me day in and day out until I was finally able to come home. Although this was an experience of overwhelming pain and suffering, God used it to teach me about the people He’s placed in my life and about His faithfulness and goodness in Jesus.
Suffering can come at the hands of others, either through their selfishness or negligence. Yet the Bible gives us an example of a man who was neither selfish nor negligent, yet suffered the most - Jesus. He was an innocent man, yet He took on the sins of the world and suffered a horrific death so that we may live. Jesus also modeled for us that suffering is inevitable. Suffering takes on many forms in this world; sometimes it comes through a devastating diagnosis, a natural disaster, or another one of the million ways in which we can suffer. Suffering is so common that sometimes we even let our struggles, trials, and sufferings become the most familiar components of our lives; we let depression, shame, anxiety, bitterness, grief, sickness, and addiction become weirdly comfortable and even expected after a period of time. So much so that we have a hard time imagining life without pain and can even forget how our life was before suffering entered into it.
Yet the story of Jesus shows me that God works according to His timeline, not ours. He walks us through our hurts and our healing rather than around them or away from them. I put all of my pain and struggles aside and focused on the only person that can shape me into the best Juan that I can be - Jesus. Today I encourage you to do the same because it’s time to get unstuck, move past survival mode, and move into all that God wants to do in and through your pain. You may not have been living fully because of your suffering, but now is the time to live, thrive, heal, and take your life back. God desires for you to bounce back from the hurt that has been robbing you and shrinking your world. Indeed, He has good plans for you. He hates to see you suffer and promises to use your suffering for good in your life and in others’ lives. He desires to propel you to even greater heights because He loves you and wants to strengthen you. He can use your hurt for something beautiful today. The question is, will you trust him to take you through your pain?
He’s turned my weakness into strength and I know that if you choose to trust Him, He can and will do the same for you.
Juan Medina Urrego