I have always been somewhat afraid of suffering. Even though I know the Lord will give me everything I need to walk through any form of suffering, it has always been more head knowledge than heart knowledge. That is, up until recently.
This past year I have been the observer of many dear Christian people walking through suffering — very, very deep suffering. Losing children, severed relationships, the loss of family members or friends… As I have witnessed others walking through these things, there is one thing that has been made blatantly evident: God is always good. Instead of these tragedies drawing them away from Christ, they have allowed the Lord to use them to build greater strength, trust, and unshakeable joy in the midst of the greatest of storms. And the life of Christ is gloriously displayed in and through each and every one of them.
In seeing this, I have been challenged to the very core: do I truly believe that no matter what kind of suffering I may walk through in this life, God will use it for my good and for His glory? Do I trust Him enough to allow me to go through anything, that I might love Him more and have a greater ability to proclaim His faithfulness?
Romans 5:3-5 says, “…not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
If we truly believe the words spoken in this verse, then we will not shy away from any form of suffering that comes our way, but will face it with joy and boldness. As Christians, we have the privilege of suffering in such a way that shines brightly with the life of Jesus Christ. We are not called to walk through suffering in our own strength, but in the power of the Holy Spirit!
Hebrews 2:9-10 says, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
We don’t often have a choice about walking through suffering. But Jesus did. He willingly went through the most horrible kind of suffering that we might be brought from darkness into light. He knows suffering at the deepest level — Perfection becoming sin, being separated from His Father, and taking the punishment that should have been ours. And all the while, He was being mocked and ridiculed. We didn’t deserve it in the least, yet He did it anyway. Now, because of that, we can have a relationship with our Heavenly Father and the hope of being with Him forever! It was through the doorway of suffering Jesus opened the way for us to walk through suffering with supernatural joy, peace, and hope.
There is a reason that many come to know the Lord when they watch Christians go through the most intense of trials. They see something different, and they know if they went through that same thing they would collapse under the weight of it. The suffering of the saints of Christ is never in vain, but will always be used to declare to this world that Jesus is vastly, eternally sufficient!