One of the most distinct ways the world sees Christ through his church is the way in which we suffer. For most of us, suffering is not something we look forward to. In fact, most of us respond to suffering or “tribulation” with a “Fight or Flight” mentality.
I remember being newly married to my wife Holly, and realizing that there were things about her, the way she did things, and the way life was going that I didn’t particularly care for. In those moments, instead of working out the problems with kindness, gentleness, and truth, I would resort to “Fight or Flight”. I would either respond in aggressive anger and pick a fight, or I would fly away with the cold shoulder and silent treatment to make her feel guilty.
Christ calls us to approach suffering much differently than our flesh desires. As a God who knows our tribulation (Rev. 2:9), God can distinctly and perfectly relate and understand the suffering and hard times we go through. In fact, He knows it so well, because He has caused or allowed it all.
Peter writes, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
When I read this, I find 3 special truths that I hope you can hang onto today:
- God is in full control of the length of our suffering. Notice the phrase, “And AFTER you have suffered a LITTLE WHILE…” God has the pulse on your suffering. It’s not sporadic.
- By his grace, your suffering is creating an ETERNAL GLORY in you. Oftentimes we get discouraged in our suffering because it’s not producing much good that we can see; but rest assured, it is not random (2 Cor. 4:17).
- If we embrace suffering obediently, GOD HIMSELF, “Will RESTORE, CONFIRM, STRENGTHEN, and ESTABLISH YOU” (Rom. 8:29-30) God is right there with you. Like a loving Father holding his child while the doctor gives a shot. Your suffering is the prerequisite to restoration, confirmation, strengthening, and establishment.
Suffering is inevitable. In fact, it’s the best way for us to identify with Christ. But when we suffer, do we approach it as a training scenario that God has specifically ordained for our growth and maturity, or as a random, senseless situation where I need to “Fight or Flight”? Let’s resolve to suffer well. Let’s resolve to glorify God in our suffering among a world driven by prosperity. Is Christ Lord of your life when suffering? Or just when the sun is out and the rainbow shines?