The Idea Of Suffering
Suffering. I think when we hear the word we automatically think of an illness or disease. We think of someone dying in pain. While these are definitely forms of suffering, the true meaning of suffering is much more encompassing and broad. It is defined as, “the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship”. That could be financial strain, broken relationships, depression, anxiety, and of course sickness.
But for us that name the name of Christ as the Lord and Savior, it is important that we place suffering in its proper context. In Romans 8:18 Paul states these words: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” How could he come to that conclusion? What did he know that we as Christians tend to forget? Paul understood that we live in a fallen world. That the suffering that we experience in general is a result of the sin that Adam and Eve committed in the beginning times. That sin caused us to be separated from God and as such, invited evil into the world.
However, in that same chapter in verse 28 Paul says this: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Did he mean to say in some things? In most things? No!! He said IN ALL things God works for the good of us. That means that even in the sufferings we experience God can and will work them out for our good. Furthermore, God sent his son Jesus Christ to suffer for our sins. So that if we would place our faith and trust in Him and in what he did, we would gain access to a place where there is no more suffering.
Folks, the present life is not our ultimate destination. There is an eternal life waiting on us after this one. There is a new body and a new earth that will be given to us. A physical body that will never feel pain, be tired, or suffer ever again. The problem is that most Christians believe that our ultimate destination is to be floating in the clouds as disembodied spirits for all eternity. Some even believe that we will be remade into angels. But that is just not true. Everyone who has currently died in the Lord is awaiting the resurrection of their bodies to live with Christ forever on the new earth. That is indeed our future hope and our anticipated glory. This is why Paul could say that our present sufferings are not even worth being compared to what we will experience in the life to come. Like him, we must also understand that God often uses and allows sufferings to prune us and prepare us for the life that is to come. That is what we long for. That is what we desire. Without that hope and proper context, we tend to see suffering as only punishment from God. But if we can see suffering as the thing that draws us closer to God and if we can understand that there is a life to come where suffering will be non existent, then we are able to, as Paul puts it, “share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
I’ll leave you with this passage of scripture that I pray you will read in its entirety. Paul breaks down this temporary fleshly body we live in and speaks on the eternal body God has waiting for us.
2 Corinthians 5:1-9:
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.”
Be blessed and may the peace of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ keep your minds and your hearts focused on him and not on the sufferings that we may experience in this life.
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What I want the most is for this to not be about me. But rather the focus be placed on Jesus Christ; the author and finisher of our faith. I am just a vessel willing to be used by him and for him.
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