This morning I read these words in Tim Keller's Walking with God through pain and suffering. They were just what I needed to hear:
Suffering is something that must be walked through. We are to meet and move through suffering without shock and surprise, without denial of our sorrow and weakness, without resentment or paralyzing fear, yet also without acquiescence or capitulation, without surrender or despair.
Adversity is like a fire that, rather than destroying you, can refine, strengthen, and beautify you, as a forge does with metal ore. The fire "tries" to destroy the metal put into the fire but only succeeds in making it more pure and beautiful. Like fire working on gold, suffering can destroy some things within us and can purify and strengthen other things.
Or not. It depends on our response. The fiery furnace does not automatically make us better. We must recognize, depend on, speak with, and believe in God while in the fire. God himself says that he will be with us, walking beside us in the fire. Knowing him personally while in our affection is the key to becoming stronger rather than weaker in it.
Tim Keller, Walking with God through pain and suffering, 226-9