Suffering is defined as "the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship". Does that sound like anything we would willingly endure? In fact, were it left up to us, we would avoid suffering at all costs. Thank You God that Your thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and Your ways higher than our ways.
Even as we reflected last week on Jesus's suffering, as believers we too will endure suffering. Jesus tells us that in this world we will have trials and tribulations, which comes in many forms: it may be through sickness, loss, persecution or betrayal, to name a few.
Suffering is a certainty! It is a process by which we gain spiritual maturity. It is meant to transform us into the image of Christ, to develop Christ-like character and to minister to others. Ultimately it is for the honour and glory of God. It also reminds us of our need for and dependence on God and not on ourselves.
We must therefore transform our minds to appreciate the true purpose of our suffering and respond as it says in the Book of James, to count it all joy; to persevere, to grow, to recognise that when we suffer for Christ sake, that there is a glorious reward.
Romans 8:18-21 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the One who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
Additionally, we should note that this earthly suffering would only be for a while and its no comparison to our promised eternal glory.
1 Peter 5:10 "And 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."
There is an end result and reward for our suffering. Therefore, let's look at suffering differently and grow through it. Allow God to transform us through our suffering. After all, there is no testimony without a test, so let's face our suffering with great joy as Paul said, know that we are overcomers and that God will ultimately be glorified through it.
Father, in Your Word You said that there would be suffering in this world. We thank You that You are perfecting us through our suffering, pruning away those things that are not of You and maturing us into Christ-like character.Thank you for the eternal inheritance that we have in You. Amen!