Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hope in the storm #4: Gift of Suffering

If you've been following along, you know I've been posting a series to prep our hearts for suffering in our own lives (Post 1), what to do with our questions in grief (Post 2), and how to be a friend to those suffering (Post 3). Today, I'm memorizing promises in suffering. Not to spout them off as fact to my hurting friends, but to stay my mind on God's promises, so when my day comes, they will be seeds planted that I pray will bear fruit in my heart.
this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. -2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Paul says this suffering is preparing us and in it we should look heavenward to understand it. Numerous times scripture even says to rejoice in it. Let’s look at a few truths we can cling to for truth and hope as we endure suffering and entrust ourselves to God in it. Through suffering…

We Know Jesus More:
“rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” - 1 Peter 4:13
Jesus- We know Him better when we suffer because His sufferings and His victory over death become more real. When people abandon/reject me, His rejection comes alive when I read it. When I have pain, I “get” His pain a little deeper. When we face death or mourn great loss, His death and resurrection are way more amazing. Jesus beat death. His death means we who are His die once, but don’t suffer forever. That is comfort that no one but Him offers and is cause for rejoicing.

We Grow and Mature:
“we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5: 3-5
We can rejoice in suffering because we trust that this is one way God chooses to grow us. We grow in endurance as we press onto him day after day. That endurance changes our character and will eventually bring real and lasting hope in Jesus. Hope is a precious life-giving gift and it is learned through suffering.

Heaven/New Earth Will Be Far Sweeter to Us:
God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” -Revelation 21:3-4
We can rejoice in suffering because we know joy is coming. The hurt and pain we feel now will be eliminated forever. And we will know better just what a gift that is because we know how awful pain, mourning, death, and sorrow are.

Suffering is so very hard, but God does not leave us alone in it. And more than that, He promises these sweet fruits from it in us, too. Let’s memorize these and meditate on them so when our day of suffering comes, we know the truth to cling to.