THAT was the question put to me: is there any advantage to suffering with God as opposed to suffering without faith?
The first thing I had to do in preparing to answer such a question was to admit my bias — to acknowledge I have only one answer. That places me in possibly a weaker position to answer, because I can only answer truly from one perspective, although I do believe to suffer without faith is akin to hell — to suffer without the aid and comfort of God as if God did not exist.
But, of course, God does exist. His existence is proven by what He gives us when we exercise faith.
Faith amid suffering doesn’t make suffering tolerable, but faith always returns something to us in our suffering.
These concepts I write about are about experience. We can only truly know these things from having lived them. It doesn’t make us superior spiritually. But it does give us information about faith and the powers of God unveiled in suffering.
Actual lived experience of suffering in the present together with faith draws us into deeper partnership with God. Faith in this paradigm is that which patiently endures and enquires of God within the pain. Living with pain without faith, however, means we judge God, ourselves or others for what we resent. Without faith we focus on what’s been taken from us — certainly understandable given the circumstances. With faith, though, we look for what we’re being gifted — could be nothing, but the fact is we’re open and looking. Suffer with faith and we have the possibility of contentment. Suffer without God, and what I see is a complete lack of contentment.
In pain, God matures our understanding, making our faith not only realer and more robust, but of several senses deeper. Such blessings of the Presence of God are not something God wants us to feel superior about. But there is something tangible we experience about the Presence of God when we suffer with faith.