One of my ponderings lately has been around the word, “suffering.” In the past couple of weeks, we have had three families lose a loved one. I can’t begin to understand the pain and suffering of the families who have had to deal with the loss of ones so dear. How much suffering can one take and for how long? Why do we have to go through suffering on this earth? Peter tells us to “not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13) Even in the midst of my sufferings (or minor irritants in comparison), I have a hard time rejoicing that I get to participate in this “suff \ering,” especially when it seems like it’s going on forever! Out of this suffering, God’s Word promises that I will be overjoyed by seeing how God has been revealed through what I have been through. I can’t begin to count the number of times that I have received a blessing in my life (God’s glory being revealed) after a time of suffering. I try to remember to thank God for this blessing. If I forget, then it seems I am allowed to participate in these sufferings again until I learn what it is God wants to teach me. I often feel like I am a preschooler who learns by repetition. In addition to not being surprised, we see that our “brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Peter 5:9b). God knew that we needed to know this. Why? Because once we have gone through much pain and suffering, we develop perseverance, character and hope (Romans 5:3-4). Not only that, we can comfort others by what we have learned (2 Corinthians 1:3b-5). God can comfort us because He knows the suff ering that Christ endured on our behalf. As we have gone through these sufferings and are comforted by God, we can then comfort others with the comfort of Christ flowing through us. We learn from the trial and then encourage others who are going through a similar trial. What an awesome picture of Christ working through us and in us as we try to comfort those around us! If you feel like you have been going through a time of suffering for whatever reason, be encouraged that “the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast!” (1 Peter 5:10)
I originally penned this article for the April/May 2009 issue of, “Inspire Uplift Renew”, Redeemer Baptist Church’s Cool Water Ministries Bimonthly Newsletter.