Life is not very kind.
Have you noticed that? I certainly have. Particularly lately. God has been walking me back through the scrapes, miseries, and heartaches in my life.
Some of the scrapes were my own sin bringing me to my knees, but much of it smacked me sideways when I felt most safe and secure. Not wanting to relive those memories, I asked God why I had to remember such heart-sore times. After a few more weeks of memories, this was my answer:
God is reminding me of His faithfulness to me.
Many people assume that Christianity is the “EASY” button. That Christ somehow makes everything easier and smoother as soon as you sign up. That certainly has not been my experience. The more I press into my relationship with Christ, the more difficult my life seems to get.
In fact, Jesus straight-up tells us “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33, ESV). Sounds like fun, right? Not only did Jesus tell us, he walked painful, blistered steps through temptation, deprivation, torture and death that most of us could not conceive.
The apostle Paul reinforces this theology of suffering like this:
“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12) and “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5).
We daughters of the King were not called to luxury and ease in this lifetime. We were called to suffer. Why?
Phillip Keller answers that question this way:
“I know of nothing which so stimulates my faith in my Heavenly Father as to look back and reflect on His faithfulness to me in every crisis and every chilling circumstance of life” (80).
Let’s return to John 16:33. “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, ESV, emphasis mine).
Jesus came to walk through our suffering and temptations. He came to die. But make no mistake, the cross was not the end. Jesus came to die so that he could live.
If Jesus had stayed dead, there would be no gospel. He would have succumbed to the ultimate consequence of sin: eternal separation from God with a side order of death.
Jesus came be resurrected. By coming back to life, Jesus defeated death and sin for all people who would call on his name. Because he came back to life, our suffering has purpose. It has meaning.
No matter how much you suffer, Jesus has suffered more in your place. He has himself borne the sting of death so we won’t have to.
Yes, we still suffer. Living in a fallen world, hostile to our Father, we should expect to experience suffering.
But there is beauty in our suffering because of the goodness of our God. Our suffering can bring us into more intimate knowledge of our God than we could ever achieve without it.
Suffering allows you to see your all-powerful Creator God step into your suffering and walk through it carrying you, his Beloved.
Jesus experiences your torment with you. He shields you from the brunt of your suffering. He carries you when you’re too weak to walk.
What an intimate knowledge of our God! You and I get to experience the peace and presence of God. Our suffering provides the opportunity to proclaim with confidence that
“My God will hear me…. [W]hen I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me” (Micah 7:7-8).
How else will we be confident in God’s presence and peace until we have experienced it?
None of the suffering you experience has not been endured by Jesus. What’s more, no measure of suffering you experience do you experience alone.
Even in the bleakest darkness, our God is faithful.