I Want To Suffer Well: Inspiring Stories of Being Met and Kept

Gold Brush Stroke

Some of us suffer in our daily living, but die peacefully. Some of us walk a relatively easy earthly path but suffer in our dying. Some of us face both.

sufficient grace_metandkept-

As of late I’ve been exposed to more stories of suffering than usual. And it struck me that there are two ways to deal with suffering. Whether you face trials throughout life or only at the end, you will suffer with hope or you will suffer in despair. It is your choice.

We will all face trials, but we get to choose whether we will suffer with hope or we will suffer in despair. Share on X

Two Perspectives

A stark contrast exists between the two perspectives. Although tears fall in both cases, they either taste of bitterness and hopelessness or gratitude and possibility, depending on the focus. 

In His sovereignty, God allows us to choose our response to suffering.

  1. We can respond based on human perspective, certain nothing good can possibly come from pain and loss. And live in abject fear of being diagnosed with cancer or getting that “midnight call” or being rejected.
  2. Or we can respond in trust, reassured from Scripture and examples around us, that God can and will use all circumstances for our good. Even diseases, even death.

In the past, I haven’t always chosen well. Despair and hopelessness threatened to become my default reactions to broken situations. This lasted until, frankly, I got tired of living in doom and gloom.

I needed to learn another response. Because I want to suffer well. To glorify God in the process. 

So, over the last decade or so, I’ve slowly become intentional about filling my days with stories of hope and redemption and grace. God has blessed that choice by exposing me to some amazing individuals. People who are not only amazing in their own right but amazing in their faith walk, in spite of incredible suffering. 

Suffer Well: Incredible Examples

The first person who demonstrated to me how to suffer well in a big way went Home to her glory in September 2011, but you still need to meet her (I did write a bit about her in this post, You Are Here To Make a Difference). Her name was Sara Frankl, her friends knew her as Gitzen Girl. (I just discovered a book based on Sara’s life will be published in 2015!)

Sara had a chronic, debilitating, painful disease that was slowly killing her. She spent years confined to her tiny apartment, unable to even venture outside because the air was poison to her. 

Although there were many days she writhed in pain, Gitzen Girl didn’t spend her days writhing in bitterness. Instead, she chose joy. She chose to bless instead of despair. She chose to praise instead of complain.

The second inspiring example of suffering well is a mom of four young children. In her 30’s, Kara Tippetts awakes each day knowing her remaining time on earth is likely short. She fights valiantly, but cancer appears to be winning the battle, taking over every corner of her body.

Yet Kara refuses to let this disease win the war. Because she knows, death is not the end, but the beginning of forever, and there is something far worse than dying…not living.

Kara grieves her cancer, which will likely rob her of precious years with her children and husband. Yet through the grace of God, she has learned to be grateful in her suffering and to love big. In her brokenness, she is meeting Jesus anew.

I am continually discovering new and wonderful examples of what it looks like to suffer well. People like Joni Eareckson Tada, who became a quadriplegic from a diving accident at the age of 17, and Nick Vujicic, a young man born with no arms and no legs.

All of these individuals inspire a life of hope not despair. Their heart-wrenching stories of daily struggles and impossible pain are punctuated by impossible beauty in the grace of their Savior. Their faith-filled suffering gives evidence to a broken world redeemed by a faithful God.

Met and Kept

Their testimonies all scream the same thing: although suffering is hard, it is not without beauty. In their suffering, in our suffering, we are all met and kept by the Lord Jesus.

Although suffering is hard, it is not without beauty. In suffering, we are all met and kept by the Lord Jesus. Share on X

If you haven’t yet, at some point, you will experience brokenness; pain and fear will come knocking. When it does, how will you respond?

Will you reach for the hem of the Conqueror of death, finding the beauty of being met in the hard?

Or will you give into the lie that nothing good can come from brokenness and walk a life of despair?

Might I suggest the former. Fill your life with evidence of the love of Jesus. Expose yourself to the presence of those who are finding beauty in the hard.

Saturate yourself with stories of God’s grace. Learn what it means to walk in that grace. So as you journey through life, you too will suffer well.

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-10

Reflection: Have you thought about what it means to suffer well? Do you know someone who is finding Jesus anew in the midst of incredible suffering? 

Since beginning more than 3 years ago, I’ve counted more than 3,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! So here we go: #3303–3323, read the entire list by clicking here.

  • Finally “fixed” our cat problem–poor Wolf & Ash may not be too perky for a couple days; Long walk in the dark; Sound of leaves blowing across the road
  • God’s gifts of steady hands and great knowledge for doctors; One-on-one time with my youngest; Finding humor in the least likely places
  • The best cheesy bread with turkey soup; Family time playing in the fallen leaves; A beautiful coyote running down the road
  • Large number of scattering wildlife in the coolness of morning; Last of the fall produce harvested from the garden; Nutella-ice cream comfort food
  • Received my new washing machine in which all the cycles work; Ease of using my new work laptop; “Freeze-drying” clothes on the line
  • Still getting regular hugs from my youngest even though he’s now nearly a head taller than me; Fun day celebrating Dave’s Mom’s birthday; Mom-in-law doing so well with broken wrist – no pain
  • A little gospel music for a Sunday morning; Mesmerizing effect of stream ripples; Group Skyping with the boys–figured it out!

By His Grace,



  1. Cecelia Lester (Quiet Spirit) on November 6, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Julie: I found this scripture in my Bible reading one night when I was at my lowest about a circumstance in my home. “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now**Choose life** so you and your child may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life and he will give you many years in the landhe swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20
    The part that caught my eye was the “choose life” section. I had been trying to shake a low spirit about this circumstance, thinking I was to fall into it because it was in my family history. But, God changed all that for me. I now know I don’t have to do any of that stuff and can learn to be the person God planned me to be.

    • Julie Sunne on November 6, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      That verse means much to me as well, Cecelia. It’s important that we share with others how God has helped us climb out of the pitfalls we find ourselves in. Thank you for doing that.

  2. […] and He provides inspiration in Kara. Kara, like several others whose lives I’ve followed (see I Want To Suffer Well: Inspiring Stories of Being Met and Kept), is showing me how to live in […]

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Julie Sunne

Hello, I'm Julie, an imperfect wife and mother of four. Life in this broken world is not always easy. Yet, joy can be found in each day through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I find it's easy for our day's blessings to get lost in its happenings. But God's "mercies never end" (Lamentations 3:22) and His "grace is sufficient" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

May the posts and pages on this site offer you a measure of peace and encouragement.

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