Suffering is inevitable.
Turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper and you will be bombarded with discouraging news. Everyone will experience some kind of trial or suffering in their lifetime. This guarantee of suffering exists for two reasons, first because the world is fallen and infected with sin. Because sin entering the world, suffering exists. The second reason is because as a follower of Christ, we will experience suffering because the call to follow Him is a call to die. Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” –Matthew 16:24 Why does Christ give this difficult task to His followers? In his last hours on earth, why did he reiterate the certainty of suffering in a Christian’s life by stating that “In the world you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33) It would be an impossible task if that phrase is all we have recorded in our Bibles, however in the very next breath, Christ gives the ultimate encouragement when he says, “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Dear One, whatever kind of suffering you are experiencing, take heart because you have a Savior who has overcome the world. The One who died for you experienced the ultimate suffering by leaving His heavily throne and stepping into human flesh to ultimately die on your behalf for your sins. Because He has suffered, you have the greatest example of how to suffer well. When Christ suffered death on a cross, His suffering lead to eternal life for the ones who choose to call Him Lord and Savior.
Suffering as a Christian has two purposes – God’s glory and our good.
When we respond to suffering in such a way that shows the unbelieving world that Christ is more glorious and precious to us than our suffering, it shows who and what our true treasure is. By placing our ultimate hope in Christ and not the temporary things that are causing our hearts pain, God receives the glory.
“My body is sick with cancer, the paycheck didn’t quite cover everything this month, I have an unsaved family member, that phone call changed everything” – the list can go on and on. The question begs to be asked, “how can suffering possibly be for my good?”
Suffering as a Christian serves several purposes for our ultimate good. First, suffering sanctifies and purifies us like nothing else can. When earthly pleasures, things and people are stripped out of our lives, it is revealing of where we have mistakenly placed our hope. Suffering draws us closer to Christ, because we don’t have the worldly comforts to rely on. Christ desperately longs for us to fix our eyes upon Him, and not the things the world tries to romance our souls with.
Beloved, my charge to you is not to waste your suffering. Instead of throwing yourself a pity party (although I have thrown and attended several grand ones for myself), seek the Lord’s voice speaking in your suffering.
“Do you trust Me?”
How often does the Creator of the universe whisper those words into our souls? Often, our first reaction to suffering is frustration, fear or anxiety. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is the following:
“When you cannot see the hand of God, you can always trust His heart!”
When your heart is breaking, and your world is falling apart, when all around you, it seems like there is nothing but death, tragedy and heartache, take heart! Remind yourself that your God, your Father, your Lord has overcome the world! Trust in His character. Remember that God loves His children and that He is ultimately good. Do not forget these truths for they are your lifeblood in times of suffering .
Regardless of your present…
Circumstances or crisis,
Pressures or pain,
Suffering or sorrow,
Failures or frustrations,
Danger or disease,
Memories or misery,
Temptations or trials,
Problems or persecutions,
Burdens or brokenness…
Your situation is temporary compared to eternity!
In the closing chapters of the final book of the Bible, God makes a beautiful declaration to His children.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3)
If this present world was all there was and there was no Savior in which to place our hope, we should be pitied, but that is not the case! This world is not our home, we are merely passing through. As you evaluate the current pain in your own life or in the world right now, meditate on these questions:
What is the Lord teaching you about Himself?
How can you use your suffering for His glory?