What Suffering Is Doing for Me (and can do for you)

Gold Brush Stroke

Suffering is simultaneously breaking me down and building me up. And it’s both incredibly hard and amazingly glorious.  

Suffering is simultaneously breaking me down and building me up. It's both incredibly hard and amazingly glorious. Share on X

suffering increases fellowship with God

On a particularly difficult Sunday, I confessed through my tears to my pastor’s wife. “I don’t know how to raise Rachel. I can’t do this! I don’t know how to care for a child with special needs.”

I posted about another hard Sunday a while later:

Last Sunday, I was in a rather desperate state heading to church. The morning had not gone well. Things were very difficult with Rachel, and only half of us ended up going to worship. As my son drove, I sighed, “Lord I need your strength!”

Many times every week I cry out for God to help me care for this beautiful daughter of mine and to give me the strength to endure. Rachel has severe intellectual delays that affect every area of her life. At the age of 19, her actions largely portray a 2 or 3 year old.

I expected that caring for a child with such special needs would be most difficult in the younger years. That expectation was incorrect.

As Rachel enters adulthood, her independence and stubbornness is increasing. Her anxiety about going anywhere, even to familiar places, is mounting. Her poor expressive language intensifies the problem. 

While we try to figure out the cause of frequent sore throats and unexplained fear, the incredibly difficult decision of where she’ll reside in adulthood looms large in my mind and in my heart. 

And as our friends enjoy a greater measure of freedom as their children become teens and young adults, my husband and I still face demands similar to parents with toddlers. It’s affected our time together. But perhaps hardest, it’s inhibited our ability to nurture other relationships.  

Yet, increasingly, I’m seeing the blessings of our struggle. 

Blessing of Suffering

Not being able to solve my problems intellectually or physically has forced me to the cross. I am compelled to consider how Jesus handled the worst suffering in the history of the world. And in doing so, I’ve come to better understand the depth of His love for and devotion to me (and to you too). 

As I dig into the Word, I’m finding solace and strength for each day. And I’m falling deeper in love with my Savior. 

Dig into the Word: find solace and strength for each day and fall deeper in love with your Savior. Share on X

At the very least, the continued hardship of caring for my daughter is drawing my mind (and in turn, my heart) to God. 

Discover Our Indescribable God

Every day we have a list of tasks to accomplish. Each day we awake with anticipation of something we’d like to do that day. Moving to accomplish it all captures our minds so completely that the Lord barely gets a nod. 

But bring us to the end of ourselves … take us to a situation we cannot solve … give us a weight too heavy to bear … place our humanity squarely in front of us—then something amazing happens! 

When we face the impossible—the uncontrollable—we discover all over again, our all-powerful, all-loving, indescribable God! 

When we face the impossible, we discover all over again, our all-powerful, all-loving, indescribable God! Share on X

suffering and hope

The Pain Is Real, but God…

I’m not downplaying the pain you may be experiencing. Tears come. Hearts ache. Sometimes we wonder how we can face one more day. 

Yet when we know from where our hope comes, we can trust God’s grace will meet us in exactly the right way at exactly the right time. 

I cannot face my daughter’s future on my own.

But for God….

But for the victory we have over death and suffering in the sacrifice and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ…

But for the hope we have for a pain-free eternity…

But for a God who is with us through it all…

We can face that next day in the midst of any hardship when we stand on the Rock!

We can face that next day in the midst of any hardship when we stand on the Rock! Share on X

Suffering will come. And it can be incredibly painful.

But we have a choice. We can curse it. Or we can let it draw our minds and hearts ever closer to our God. I pray your choice is the latter. 

Let your suffering draw you into a deeper and more passionate fellowship with your Lord. 

Let your suffering draw you into a deeper and more passionate fellowship with your Lord. Share on X

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2 ESV).

Reflections: What suffering are you currently facing? How can we pray for you? 


By His Grace,



  1. Cecelia Lester on October 28, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Julie: I admire your transparency about the issues that vex you. We have to learn to turn those concerns over to God and learn to leave them there. In rearing our son, I also had to deal with issues brought to me by my husband, a couple of sister-in-laws, my mother and my dad. God was with me, even though I didn’t think He was. God will guides us through these difficult times, if we allow Him to.

    • Julie Sunne on November 10, 2017 at 10:24 pm

      Absolutely true, Cecelia, and I’m so grateful! Thank you for your encouragement.

  2. Kristine Brown MTY on November 9, 2017 at 6:01 am

    This is beautiful Julie. I am thankful for how you share your journey and show the hope and wisdom of a life lived relying on God. You are so right. It’s those times when we don’t know what to do or where to turn, when we’re so exhausted we can hardly stand, that we will experience the awesome grace, mercy, and blessings of our Heavenly Father.

    • Julie Sunne on November 10, 2017 at 10:25 pm

      Praying and open to receiving that tonight, Kristine! Thank you for being such an encouragement in my life.

  3. Kristi Woods on February 2, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    Julie, you and your family truly inspire me. Watching you come alongside Rachel, love on her, and simply be family was a heart-warmer for certain when we visited a year ago. I can imagine days are rough, decisions as well. Thank God we have a Guide. You’re wise to point us His direction and head there as well. Happy Friday, friend. And hug that beautiful daughter for me, okay? xo

    • Julie Sunne on February 12, 2018 at 9:12 pm

      Support and encouragement from friends like you is such a blessing, Kristi! Thank you! Hugs given.

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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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