When You Suffer…

The Bible has a great deal to say about suffering. Some have argued that dealing with pain is the central theme of the Scriptures.[1] Could we not contend that suffering is one of the major underlying realities that unites every person on the planet together in shared experience?

Because of this, how we respond to suffering, both personal and observed, will define our lives as much as anything else. Unfortunately, for those of us who are Americans, we are not well-equipped in our culture to handle this subject. Comfort and ease are a way of life for us, and we feel entitled to them. Timothy Keller, in Walking with God through Pain and Suffering notes:

Sociologists and anthropologists have analyzed and compared the various ways that cultures train its members for grief, pain, and loss. And when this comparison is done, it is often noted that our own contemporary secular, Western culture is one of the weakest and worst in history at doing so…Our own society gives its members no explanation for suffering and very little guidance as to how to deal with it.

Think about this for a second. Outside of any religious framework, how are we as Americans equipped to handle suffering? Are we not pushed and pulled toward the entitlement of an “American Dream?” We elect officials to preserve our way of life and to advance our personal and national prosperity. What within the worldview of our culture equips us to handle criticism, cancer, pain, loss, or death? Are we not taught to either ignore it, fix it, or outrun it? What about when we can’t do any of those? What about when it doesn’t just show up on our doorstep, but actually blows through the door into our living room?

At this point, the biblical/Christian worldview offers an answer that is completely unique. No other world religion answers this question like biblical Christianity. No social system or political ideology gives so concrete a response.

What does the Bible give us?

Jesus.

God’s response to a broken world looking for answers, was to send an Answer in the form of His Son, Jesus. Jesus came into the world to share the suffering we experience, not simply as an act of solidarity, but on a mission of redemption.

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
Hebrews 2:9

When we suffer we can look to Jesus, not only for encouragement, but for the strength and perspective to persevere through it. In Jesus we see someone who endured suffering on his way to glory, a path he pioneered for us to follow. For those who follow Jesus, God’s Spirit within us reveals this to our spirits, holding us up and working his redemption in our lives through our suffering.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:16-18 

The answer when we suffer is not ignoring it, fixing it, or outrunning it. The Answer is Jesus.


Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2


[1] Timothy Keller describes the journey he and his wife Kathy went through in regards to this subject. He says “when we looked to the Bible to understand…we came to see that the great theme of the Bible itself is how God brings fullness of joy not just despite but through suffering, just as Jesus saved us not in spite of but because of what he endured on the cross.

Advertisements

About Pastor Andrew

Follower of Jesus, Husband to Carissa, Daddy to four daughters, Lead Pastor at LifePoint Church in Vancouver, WA.
This entry was posted in 1 Peter, 2theSource and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to When You Suffer…

  1. Great post and so timely! “The answer when we suffer is not ignoring it, fixing it, or outrunning it. The Answer is Jesus.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s