In this life, it is essential to apprehend and to assimilate the purposes God has for us in our life in Christ Jesus as we live in a sinful and broken world and suffering goes along with this reality. Yet, don’t fret as we rejoice because our Sovereign God uses our trials and suffering so we become more like Jesus, who suffered for our sake so that we may have eternal life in heaven, where there is no suffering or pain. Paradoxically, we benefit from Christ’s suffering on the cross to endure the sin of this world, now, and to even be strengthened in Him—nothing better. How could that be possible? Understanding who you are in the context of the history of humanity is a good place to start.
You see, since the fall of mankind, Adam and Eve brought sin into the world and along with their disobedient acts, all future generations, including us and our offspring are born into sin. Sin produces suffering and this was not God’s intention for mankind. Even child-bearing is part of the curse where it was deemed to be painful, literally demonstrating how we are born with suffering as a means to life (Genesis 3:16). But we are saved from sin and sometimes even the consequential effects of sin teach us humility so we spiritually learn to comfort others in our afflictions (2 Corinthians 1:1-3). As one mother knows the depths of child-bearing and child-raising, we relate to each other in our hearts and embodied experiences. For now, we are able to endure and hope while we suffer, we have others in community to help us through unbearable sufferings like a death of a child or a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. And good news, God is our comfort always and has not left us alone in our suffering.
Rejoice,there is a Savior who came to save us from sin and suffering, his name is Jesus, son of man and son of God. When we know Him and accept how He died on the cross to save us from our sinful selves, we live in union with Him. Then as we are transformed in grace, through Christ’s suffering on the cross, God gives us patience in and with ourselves, our limitations, our ailments and our trials.
The Word of God supports and builds us up so we are prepared for any trial. For example, Psalms are a deep well to drink from to know how He loves us during any trial and we are stabilized through the sufferings of Jesus on the cross; “But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried about to the LORD and he answered me from his holy hill.” Psalm 3:3,4. We also cry for help as we might feel abandoned by God. And He has answered us in Christ who lifted His head and said, “Why have you forsaken me?” before He concluded the means to the end of our sin by saying, “It is finished” (Read Matthew 27:45-50 and John 19:30).
Sometimes, suffering is a form of transformational discipline as we become more and more like Jesus. In our progressive sanctification, we learn mercy, being humbled to the point of silence, bearing the cross and carrying burdens for others while we change. Suffering, in a godly manner, can be an opportunity to build up believers and strengthen the gospel at any cost. When we do good and suffer for it, we endure as 1 Peter 2:21-22 says, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth…but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live by righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” When we follow Jesus, we can expect suffering for the sake of the gospel while we grow in union with Him.
We are prepared to die for our Savior and the gospel, yet there is only One Savior who died for all of mankind. We may desire to save the world and participate in rescuing the lost but the Holy Spirit does the work. We live in this chasm for others while seeing the bright light above, and we wait. As Paul wrote in Romans 8:18-19, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” When we have this perspective, we can endure whatever is thrown our way. We shine with Jesus in glory, sometimes now but certainly forever when all pain and suffering is defeated. For now, we groan intrinsically along with creation, while waiting for and knowing the eternal perspective of hope in Christ who sustains us so we can endure. And we pray, “Lord God, show me what you did through Christ Jesus on the cross for me, so I can bear and even rejoice in the sufferings I experience in this world too, as You are our only hope in this world and the next. Give me more of you this day. Help me.” AMEN