(Sometimes you walk through the dark valley of suffering… Sometimes, it’s covered with rocks, cold, and windy and dark, but how can a Christian have hope and even JOY in the midst of this suffering?)
Thank you Katie for letting us share thoughts and happenings on this Marvelous Monday!
Suffering. I’m thinking about suffering, particularly in terms of the suffering that was part and parcel of recovery, and I want to share why and how I am learning that suffering isn’t pointless, and in fact, you can even REJOICE and be EXCEEDING glad because of it.
Suffering is a part of every person’s life whether you are rich or poor, living in America, Europe, Africa, Asia, or _____ (fill in the blank.) As human beings we experience suffering everyday. We have mental, physical, emotional, spiritual suffering, and the best thing isn’t to ‘ignore it’ but rather to confront it and ask, ‘Why am I suffering, and what does it all mean?’
Have you ever gone through a dark night of the soul, one through which it seems hard to see the light, to plunge out of despair?
I’m sure you have. Suffering is a reminder of sin and how it’s affected the world, but how does the hope of Jesus Christ turn that suffering, yes, even suffering, into a blessing? How can we, like Job, even say, ‘The Lord gives. The Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’
What if I told you that there is only ONE way that suffering can have purpose? And it’s the most glorious, amazing reason to be joyful in suffering. It means that ALL the mental, emotional, physical suffering that you have ever undergone, as God’s child, God’s redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, is NOT pointless, and it never well be.
Suffering is a reality, BUT, what does Paul say in 2 Corinthians 4:10-11 about this suffering?
‘Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.’
Jesus suffered great agony that night before He went to the cross. He even sweated great drops of blood.
What is suffering?
1. We participate in the SUFFERINGS of Christ. – Think about that… God gave His only Son, and He paid a debt we could never repay, but we actually get to participate in some of His sufferings, when we suffer. We are delivered to sufferings, not for no reason, but for the sake of Jesus Christ. Jesus even calls the sufferings, ‘my sufferings.’ When we suffer, we can even commune in part with our Lord Jesus Christ, often in a deeper way than we have ever experienced before.
2. When we suffer we can reflect just a small, beautiful part of the life of Jesus. Our outward body may be dying, but Jesus lives in us, and His life can be so beautifully reflected even through our pain.
3. Last but not least, we can respond to suffering with JOY, even if the suffering does not end.
Grief is real. It is okay to grieve over suffering, to sweat like Jesus did, to mourn for you will be comforted (Matthew 5), and to even grown over the effects of sin that you see in suffering.
But even despite that, we can rejoice.
Peter encourages the precious Christians in 1 Peter as to the purpose of their suffering in these BEAUTIFUL, solid, true words.
1 Peter 1:3-9, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you; Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.’
What is Peter saying? First he gives us the OBJECT of our rejoicing…
In verses 3 and four Peter reminds the believers that they are BEGOTTEN, REGENERATED by a living hope. It isn’t a dead hope. It’s something solid, firm, precious. What is that hope?
This is not a superficial hope. It isn’t glib joy. It’s deep, and it’s even sober joy. It’s a hope that grips the core of your being, knowing the end of our salvation, which is Christ.
I’ve been learning that it’s okay to love to eat God’s good food and REJOICE over it, but I don’t lay up my treasures in that food.
This is an eternal treasure and a hope that anybody can take away. It is an ‘incorruptible’ inheritance. What does ‘incorruptible’ mean?
You can look up the dictionary definition, but imagine something that someone can NEVER take away from you. Imagine a love that NO one can pluck you from. (Romans 8, Jeremiah 31:3, John 3:16) It’s a treasure that you will take with you after you pass from this earth. It’s something that is the greatest treasure in the world. It is JESUS Christ, who rose again from the dead, conquering death, sin, and the devil and redeemed us to this lively hope, this hope of a LIFE, an everlasting life beyond this world.
Yet, it goes even FURTHER. It doesn’t stop there. It gets BETTER.
There is another object that makes it possible for us to rejoice in suffering. We rejoice in the fact that this suffering, these manifold temptations, are the evidence of FAITH, being tried in the fire, a gift of God. (1 Peter 1:7, Zechariah 13:9)
This faith is precious. It’s more precious than any gold that anyone could give you, because it is evidence of God’s power working in you. The gospel is God’s power. He gives you the faith to believe, to believe that there is life beyond this world, that your suffering is not pointless, that you were made for HIM, for HIS glory, for His name’s sake, for HIS purpose, and not for anyone else or to please anyone else, ultimately.
Hebrews 11 is a golden passage on the value, the delight, the beauty of the faith of men and women who suffered for Jesus, who suffered in this world, and yet HOPED, knowing that their faith was not in vain.
This growth of your faith. It’s not empty. It is proof and assurance that someday, we will receive the goal of our faith, the ultimate and final salvation of our souls, the place in heaven with our Lord.
Keep fighting the good fight. Don’t give up in the suffering, because it is all for our Lord Jesus. Someday, these sufferings will end, and you can look forward to this blessed hope in our Savior.
Colossians 3:1-7, ‘Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.’
John 14:2-4, ‘My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.You know the way to the place where I am going.”
I’m thankful for suffering and all the ways God uses it to teach us and to love us and to refine us in the fire. <3
What suffering have you experienced?
How have you learned to look at suffering?