Part of the Human Life is to Suffer
Pastor Paul Gard
Part of the human life is to suffer. We all have suffered from time to time for various reasons, often times, not knowing why. And while it may not be revealed to us why (and I am not sure we always need to ask that question), each and every time we suffer we ought to use it to praise God for His providential care through it all. For it is through suffering that we can draw closer to God and it is through suffering that God often reaches us with an undivided attention. Certainly one should never be stoic about suffering as if it is solely within our ability to overcome, nor should we use suffering as a point of pride to demonstrate our spiritual maturity. Let us take the words of the Apostle Paul (2 Cor 1:3-11) to heart as we continue to walk with our Lord, Jesus Christ:
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. 8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”
Just a couple of notes about this passage:
- Paul tells us God comforts us in all our afflictions. God does not look past our trials; He meets us right where we are. Yet, we may miss an opportunity for comfort because we are focused on the immediate rather than the immediate and the long-term. In all suffering, seek His comfort.
- We are to share in sufferings together for mutual edification and sanctification. God desires for us to have an ‘us’ attitude rather than a ‘me’ attitude. We are on this path together, let us walk as such for the glory of our God.
- Trials may bring despondency, but hopefully it is only a fleeting feeling. Notice that even Paul says that they were “utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.” If you feel extremely down, it is not because you have no faith. But one must not stay there, for there is One who desires to have you rely upon Him for strength because His strength is perfect.
- Paul acknowledges that the reason despondency came was because God wanted Paul and his followers to rely on God. It is for our best that God desires for us to rely upon Him, for anything else would be idolatry. He will see you through the worst and will see you through it all until the end.
May this passage equip you to suffer in Godly terms rather than in worldly terms. Trust that God seeks your sanctification and His glory for our benefit. For it is Jesus who has suffered for you and knows what suffering is like:
“14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:14-16)
So look to God in prayer so that He may grant you wisdom, strength, and peace during a time of trial and suffering.