As those who’ve read A Reluctant Spirit know, I once suffered greatly from Post Viral Neurasthenia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. For years, I was almost completely bedridden and suffered great pain and cognitive impairment. At about my lowest point, a “friend” declared, “If you were a better Christian, you would’ve been healed by now.”

He said until I changed my ways—whatever that meant—I was doomed to live in pain and misery.

I was livid. How arrogant for him to criticize me and judge that he was a better Christian than I was.

And, then, for a time, a part of me wondered if he was right.

He wasn’t.

For we may need to be forged in a furnace to be prepared for what’s ahead.

Flames by Dean McClelland

Usually we don’t grow from happy times; we evolve by surviving our most dire challenges.

In my situation, I’d almost given up, coming very close to attempting suicide. That was my bottom. Then, I shifted my attitude. I stopped praying for healing and instead was grateful for what I could do, even if it wasn’t what “normal” people were capable of. I thanked God for what got me through. Family. Friends. Nature. Laughter. The hand-me-down clothes of one friend. The payment of a treatment by another. The prayers of many. My parents who paid my mortgage. Time continued to pass.

Then, after 18 years of crushing illness, the instant came. And, without warning, I was healed.

Being stuck in the pit of hopelessness grew me into a more compassionate person, one who understands the darkness. The pain. The inability to provide for oneself.

Now, I walk on a path paved with those experiences. My endurance instilled a desire within me to help others in a more meaningful way than if I’d always been healthy.

Devastating trials mean that God has something important in store for you.

It doesn’t indicate that you’re lacking or you’re being punished. Instead, you’re building the skills, the strength and the outlook you’ll need to excel. The greater your challenges in life, the more they prepare you for what is to come. You have to be in the trenches of agony to understand someone else’s despair.

Perhaps you were chosen for such difficulties, because the Most Divine recognizes your potential.