A Humble Opportunity
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” -2 Corinthians 4:17
Sometimes books of devotionals can bombard you with happy-go-lucky, “feel-good” Christianity. Messages of joy and love and happiness are good because they certain reflect important parts of God’s character. However, the study of these cannot cause us to ignore the more difficult side of life. So can I get weighty with you today? Because although “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28b) for those that love God, we are inevitably going to find suffering in this world. As Jesus says in Matthew 5:45b, God “sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
So we are faced with a question: How do we, as God’s people, respond to suffering? God is good, but life is not always good, so we have to know what to do when trouble comes. First, suffering does not mean that God has left you, for “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) Second, there is hope for you if you are suffering. “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10) Our God is a redeemer. What sin has taken, God will one day restore. So have hope, because the Lord is near. (I am not saying that you should not grieve. God gave us emotions for a reason, and we should use them. Grieve in suffering, yet know that there is hope of a better day ahead.)
However, I’d like us to go a step further than just having hope in suffering. I would like to present to you a humble opportunity: use your suffering to glorify God. Think about it - once we get to heaven, we will no longer have an opportunity to glorify God through our suffering because we will never suffer again. This life here on earth presents us with a unique opportunity to use our pain for the furthering of God’s kingdom. This morning as I write this iDevo, two things are brought to my mind. Last week, a young man from my town was killed in a terrible car accident. This accident tore him away from his wife and two young children. So also, I call to mind the shooting in Charleston, NC. What senseless tragedies! Yet these, too, are opportunities to use suffering for God’s glory. (Once again, grieving is okay and expected.) I look to this man from my town and the legacy he left. His life was an example of how to be a Christian leader in both Church and the public school system. In his death, the community is encouraged that they, too, can be Christian leaders wherever they are. I look to the men and women who had family taken away from them in Charleston and applaud their public forgiveness. While they were stricken with pain, they used the situation to offer an example of God’s forgiveness.
Which brings me to my final point: Jesus Christ suffered more than anything that we will endure. “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) Jesus was brutally tortured through Roman crucifixion and bore the condemnation of God because of sins that he did not commit. Yet his final words were, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34b) This is the example we have. As Jesus suffered, he grieved (Luke 22:44). As he suffered, he forgave (Luke 23:34b). And after he suffered, he saw a better day and was raised in glory just as we will someday be raised in glory (1 Corinthians 15:20).
As you are faced with suffering, allow God to grieve alongside you, for He is no stranger to pain. He will be near to you. Take advantage of the humble opportunity to use your trials to spread God’s glory, knowing that there will be a day with no more tears. Blessings as you rejoice, and blessings as you grieve, my friends.