I’ve needed a little reminding today. And so I’m writing this for myself. And for you.
The road to healing comes with twists and turns. Thank God that he always stays the same! I’ve personally had a trying couple of days, causing me to think about God’s purpose in suffering.
So if you’re suffering today in any way, my hope is that you’ll be encouraged to continue standing firmly on Christ and his unfailing love for you through the gospel of grace.
Here are two brief thoughts on God’s will in our suffering:
God wills that our treasure would be found in heaven. Often, suffering involves some sort of loss.
Think about the last thing you lost. Maybe it was a job. Maybe it was a beloved family member, a dear friend, or a child. Maybe it was your health. Or maybe it was something as simple as a calendar appointment that got cancelled at the last minute.
Earthly treasures can be beautiful gifts. Losing them, at best, is not preferred and, at worst, is downright difficult, unfair, and even grievous.
No matter what your “something” is, we’ve all placed some treasure in the passing glories of the world. It’s only when that worldly glory fades away that we’re left to consider the foundation upon which we’ve built our hope.
This is why Jesus says in Matthew 7:24, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”
Our Rock and Redeemer is Jesus Christ, our true and lasting Treasure, who alone gives his children an inheritance that extends far beyond this earthly life. All worldly treasures pale in comparison to what we have already received in Christ, and what we shall someday receive with him in glory.
God wills that we would continue to bear fruit for the advance of the gospel. The human impulse is to lose heart during hard seasons that test our faith, but these are precisely the times and platforms by which God would have us persevere and bear witness to Christ. Hardship and suffering speak to people, even to those whose hearts might seem to be completely hardened to Jesus.
Think about the final cry of Jesus from the cross and its effect upon those who crucified him. Luke’s Gospel tells us that Jesus called out to the Father with a loud voice, then he died. Christ knew he was going into death victorious over it, and because of his strength and testimony, the once-hardened centurion watching below praises God and proclaims Jesus’ innocence (Luke 23:46-47). His heart was softened by the glory of Christ in his suffering and the victory of Christ over his suffering.
People are taking note of how Christians endure suffering. So when they see that we’re not in despair, we are bearing fruit for the glory of Christ. And beyond that, when we speak of Jesus’ character and work, and how knowing him has impacted our perspective on suffering, we are like the lampstand in a dim house (Matthew 5:16), illuminating the darkness of a hopeless world.
Jesus is the vine, and you are a branch. When you abide in him, depending on him for salvation, joy, approval, and direction, you will bear much fruit for his glory. Apart from Jesus, suffering is in vain; but with Jesus, suffering is made useful! With Christ suffering is a platform by which to proclaim his surpassing beauty, strength, and promises.
So whatever you’re going through today, be encouraged brothers and sisters. You’re not alone. Your great God has a will and a purpose for you and for every ounce of trouble you are bearing right now. Only the gospel could make such an astounding reality possible!
Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.