In my first round of college at Southwest Baptist University, I took a January-term class called “Pain and Suffering.” It was a philosophy class that filled the requirement in that area.
The professor, a PhD — and try as I might, I cannot recall his name — carefully guided us along the Biblical teachings on suffering, and I recall some pretty tough questions along the way.
Many of us — most of us — can say we are no stranger to pain and suffering. Whether it be a hereditary thing, or an accident causing physical suffering, there is also emotional and spiritual suffering, all to which no human being is immune.
I confess that I have often had difficulty getting past the pain and suffering of Christ on the cross; that is, the question “why?” resounds in my mind. Oh, I know why– I’ve been in church (and out of church) since before I was able to walk. Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, church camp, retreats, all taught the reason why Christ died and who He died for: ME. You. All of us. The world. It’s the core teaching of the entire Bible— God’s plan of redemption and reconciliation for us made possible through Jesus Christ.
The longer I live, the more I am able to grasp the value of suffering. It’s not fun. It hurts! No one wants nor intends to purposely suffer, because that’s our human nature.
But without suffering, we are much less likely go grow in our faith. In fact, we may not grow at all.
Lysa Terkeurst wrote in her book “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way” “…the kind of trust in God we need to survive and thrive in this life…is gained by our suffering.”
Romans 5: “3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Romans 8:17: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
After all that Paul had lived through up to that point, he told the Romans (chapter 8 v. 18) “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
I’ve heard people say “it’s a great life if you don’t weaken.” That’s not right.
It’s a great life if you go through it trusting God and being obedient to Him.
Even when it hurts.