It’s a guarantee of life–we will suffer. But that doesn’t mean we like it. Certainly, we don’t seek it. Generally, we do all we can to avoid it. And yet it’s a key part not only of life universal, but of faith in Christ in particular.
I’ve blogged before about Christian suffering and the misconceptions and “martyr complexes” that surround it. In that post from 2018, I focused on how we will suffer, yes, but we don’t seek it, shouldn’t seek it, but rather can rise above it thanks to Christ. Today, I want to focus on a different aspect of suffering.
Suffering is usually linked to the fallen state of our world–caused by sickness, death, or injustice. We suffer at the hands of others who are cruel. We suffer grief and loss and loneliness. We suffer pain and illness. When we cry out in our spirits, “Why, Lord? Why?” it often seems that there’s no answer. Or at least, not a satisfying one. Because we live in a fallen world sure doesn’t feel like an answer, does it? Because of sin doesn’t satisfy either, especially when it isn’t our sin that leads directly to our pain.
And yet, all suffering can trace its roots back to sin–back to Satan, the father of sin. All sickness, all death, all cruelty are inexorably linked to that first curse handed down in the Garden. But here’s the thing, my friends: we serve a Savior who has already beaten sin and death and Satan. We serve a Savior who is King over that Curse.
Why then, you may ask, do we still suffer?
Because that full victory is still playing out on the human stage–but here’s where we have to shift our perspective. We will still suffer–but it’s no longer a curse in that heavenly sense. Now, because Christ suffered for us, our own suffering can be joined to His and become redemptive…it can help us to better understand His suffering. It can make us appreciate the true sacrifice He made.
He broke the bonds of sin. So now, let’s embrace the words of Christ, when He said that “it’s so that God may be glorified.” If we are healed, may it be to His glory and credit. If it lasts, may He buoy us up and fill us with His peace in a way that shines out into the world around us. When we are persecuted, may it be for His sake, so that even our oppressors see and marvel and are intrigued enough to become converts themselves.
May our suffering–which will come–be not because of sins, may not be punishments that we bring on ourselves. May they instead be witness to the One who suffered all. Who conquered. And who delivers us into the Light.