How do we respond to suffering?

A person who has suffered deeply and triumphed is now a better person. Precisely because of pain and suffering, his life story is better. He has forged character; he has become more human. – Leo Tolstoy

Which do you think is harder, to go through something difficult yourself, or watch someone you love go through it?  The last several years have not always been easy. Besides my accident happening in 1994, my father was diagnosed with lung disease in 2009 (asbestos exposure because he worked in construction when he was young).

I spent just as much time in the hospital that year with my dad (and mom) as I did in 1994. It felt like more. My mother was ill in 2007. Let’s just say, it’s been a whirlwind. My mom and dad getting sick is the second worst thing that ever happened to me, maybe even the first.3770_384596_10151109595565235_836210234_22487933_81182387_n_1__display[1]

I’ve really become accustomed to doctors. I’ll never forget one of my dad’s attending doctors in the ER. After talking with me about my dad’s condition for around ten minutes, “Oh, you’re his daughter. I thought you were his physician!” he said. My parents and I got a kick out of that. Yes, I like the language and how doctors sound very smart, it’s just not something I choose – to hang out with them all the time : )

The two most special people in my life got sick. Wait God. How could this be? I’m not even healed, and now you’re going to take my mom and dad from me?  I threw my hands up in the air at times. Feeling helpless.

I soon realized whose daughter I was. Because people tell me I have a lot of faith but man, these two – their faith even shocked me! Usually they’re well, going to church and about their daily activities, they’ve always been social.

But last Friday my dad went into the hospital, again. It was the same day as the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. What a week of pain and agony. For everyone. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. I can’t even imagine the grief. I believe those little ones with their teachers are in heaven; conducting their classroom in the glory and making of our Lord Almighty. Gone but never forgotten.

All of this tragedy has caused me to reflect. And I’ve been reading. In 2009 I bought a book called “The Promise: God’s Purpose and Plan for When Life Hurts” by Father Jonathan Morris. He’s a religious news analyst and commentator for FOX news. He was also an advisor to Mel Gibson during the making of The Passion of the Christ.

His book was published in 2009 after three back to back tragedies: the Asian Tsunami, the Pakistan earthquake, and the hurricane in New Orleans. He teaches about the coexistence of God and suffering. His book helped console me in rough times. So I pulled it out. “Jesus is in our corner, in our suffering he’s in our room” he writes. I have always felt that. In all the fear and anguish, I’ve always felt God with me, holding my hand, leading me, telling me the next step to take, the next move.

“A person who has suffered deeply and triumphed is now a better person. Precisely because of pain and suffering, his life story is better. He has forged character; he has become more human.”

My dad has been out of the hospital for a few days now and I thank God he is alright.

But this is a question from Father Jon’s book I wanted to leave with you:

“How can I transform my suffering into a springboard for personal growth?”

Not that our suffering will ever be rational or make sense, but what can we do to better our life despite circumstances that are not so bright?

Feel free to share your comments with me in the notes..

Author: Zina Hermez

I'm a teacher, writer, and speaker. I got into publishing when I joined a Christian writers' group online where I met a few select authors who mentored me. My life changed. Through classes, webinars, and friendly emails, I've been encouraged to write. I started my blog to cope with my spinal injury in hopes of helping people.

10 thoughts on “How do we respond to suffering?”

  1. First, thanks Zina for sharing with me about Pete’s response to your Blog. After reading all the above quotes and replies it further confirms what I already knew; this whole experience call life is in Divine Order. It is apparent to me Zina, that your beautiful energy has attracted these lovely souls to your Blog. Thanks to all for sharing your stories, it’s so special when people share. Happy New Years to all!


  2. I am beyond touched by your testimony Pete. Wow, that’s all I can say. What a testimony! I know that is an ongoing challenge for you and daily battle for you and one I respect and I pray for the encouragement and courage to persist because the world needs to hear your testimony. I’m so moved to see Christ bring you to a place of victory, peace and triumph in the midst of your intense suffering. This gives me a depth of appreciation for who Christ is in the midst of our suffering in a deeper and richer way. Thank you for sharing this.

    I cannot tell you how personally gratifying your comments about Zina are to me because I had the honor of teaching and supporting her in her efforts to learn to write better and supported her in starting this blog to encourage others in situations such as yourself. When I hear what you say about her, it confirms all I know of what she has to give. Please forgive me but I am one proud mama coach. 🙂


    1. Hi Pete and Sharon,

      I just want to say thank you to both of you. Pete, I met Sharon Gibson in an on line Christian writers group almost a year ago and she has helped me tremendously. The life she leads is amazing. I really hope you two get to become friends. I met a few others in the group who like Sharon, are heroes. I’m so thankful for the wonderful people God has placed in my life this last year. Sharon and Pete you guys are definitely included.

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to both of you!



    2. Sharon,

      No need to apologize for guiding Zina in her efforts…Actually a few bows to the audience of her needy, avid readers is the more appropriate response. I share in your view of Zina’s talent and potential as a writer. There is such a pureness and honesty in her style. She is just the type to be able to break through the wall of anger and denial that is part and parcel of the reality most of us face who once walked and now are entering a new life as a “disabled” person. Thanks for playing such a positive and important role in this young writers development.

      I have gotten to know Terry Gordon an author of a great book I mentioned in my post. I am sending Zina a copy of his book. He is being “sponsored” by Dr Wayne Dyer who he had long admired and met by “chance” walking on a beach in Maui.I have mentioned Zina’s work to him and if so moved after reading Terry’s book I suggested to Zina that she put together a package of her best work and some background info that I will hand deliver to Terry when I am scheduled to see him in January in Ohio. I hope Terry sees what you and I see in Zina and something that helps others in need is the product of their meeting.

      I often told my friends (much earlier in my life and only half joking) that if I ever wound up in a wheelchair to just put me out of my misery. I would have put the odds of me writing in all brutal honesty that my paralysis has been a major positive event in my 54 year old term on this earth at 1 in 1 trillion! Anything is possible and with the help of people God has sent my way it has become my unlikely reality.

      Merry Christmas to you and your family. And thanks again for encouraging our mutual friend to reach her full potential as a writer so that she can fullfil her desires to serve others in need.

      Pete Wenzell


  3. Another gem from such a talented writer.

    Zina…. Happy to hear that your Dad is out of the hospital and that he is doing somewhat better now..

    Your challenge question is one that I have been struggling with since my December 2010 spine tumor removal surgery which left me a para. Part of my answer lies in the forced deconstruction of the way I defined myself ie “the old me”.Over the last 2 years my body has been literally destroyed. I can no longer go for my daily run, I can no longer easily go on business trip without my wife or caregiver, or pick up my share of the load in our growing business to give my loyal partner a well deserved break, I have been perpetually ill and just got out of the hospital last night after an 8 day stint with a serious case of pneumonia This is my third hospital stay since Thanksgiving. My 9th in 2 years.

    In exchange I have discovered a closer and much more meaningful, deeper relationship with God and his son Jesus Christ. My marriage has substantially improved and I am now home to interact with our 10 year old twin daughters. I am able to share with them spiritual knowledge gained that I would never have known absent my paralysis.I am mainly peaceful, happy, content, and my friends still want to hang around with me! (jk).The bible says that those who suffer as Jesus did will be “Co heirs of his Kingdom in Heaven”.Much of my peace comes from now knowing there is at least a chance for me!

    I have met (albeit on line) some amazing people. One of course is Zina…. Another person I have met and have gotten to know is Dr Terry A. Gordon. Terry is a retired cardiologist from Ohio.His son Tyler suffered a SCI at 18 years old after a car accident, He is a quad as a result. In August 2012 Terry’s book “No Storm Lasts Forever” was published by Hay House.The sub title of the book is “Transforming Suffering Into Insight” This work had a profound effect on me and I strongly encourage anyone going through a “Storm” of any kind to read it.You will not be sorry.

    God has rejected me so many times at deaths door I can only assume I am here for some other purpose to serve him in a way not yet revealed to me. Having gotten to know God at a deeper level I know we are here to serve him and to learn to be better souls while here on earth. I am not satisfied with just my own spiritual growth. I remain still struggling with the “How To” serve him and my fellow man part.

    I am open to any suggestions from the SCI community! Never know who reads these blogs and who may be in need.

    To answer the million dollar question “would I trade in my spiritual growth today for a perfectly healthy body? My answer would be a difficultly arrived at, no. Why? I recognize I never would have gotten to where I am spiritually today without the paralysis. All told I am in a pretty good place.

    Thanks Zina for once again seeking to do such great things through your writings on the spiritual health of the SCI community!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family and all others in the SCI/Paralysis community


    1. Hi Pete,

      Sorry to hear you just got out of the hospital, again. But I’m glad to hear you’ll be home for Christmas with your family! Thank you for mentioning Dr. Gordon’s book, I look forward to reading it. I’m sure it will be great. Everything you said about being a different person now by having more time to be at home since your paralysis and teach your daughters makes so much sense, it seems sometimes when we have hardship, we get to really see life for what it is. We appreciate more, become closer to God as we call on Him. My accident happened when I was just a teenager, so it was interesting to read the difference in how someone changed by their injury as being an adult. I know God is with you and loves you and your family, and I’m sure all of the hospital visits are discouraging. But hang in there. I believe you’ll be alright. I’m praying for your recovery.

      Merry Christmas to you and your family!



    2. Thanks Zina,

      Please keep up the great work. You have no idea who or how much it helps those of us in need.Personally your writings help me tremendously.I am most grateful for your wise insight.

      Your copy of Terry’s book was shipped to our office and not to my home. Very sorry for the mix up. I had hoped it to be a Christmas present, but everything happens as it should according to God’s schedule. Look for it within a week, Merry Christmas!! Happy New Year!



  4. I’m glad to hear your dad is okay now. This quote inspires and encourages me, “A person who has suffered deeply and triumphed is now a better person. Precisely because of pain and suffering, his life story is better. He has forged character; he has become more human.”

    I also like your challenge question, “How can I transform my suffering into a springboard for personal growth?”

    This is so true. When we see our suffering as an opportunity for growth, we can find the gold in adversity and it does make us a more compassionate and humble person.

    Great insight Zina. Keep up the good writing!


    1. Thank you Sharon! I like how you put that, “when we see the gold in adversity…” Gold is a good word. I would never think to use that. If we grow from our experiences and become stronger, then there is gold in adversity. I like that.


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