Pain and Suffering

This has been one of those weeks where I have witnessed church folks hurting both physically and emotionally. Here are some thoughts on pain and suffering that came to mind as I considered the apostle Paul. Keep in mind these are just late-night blog thoughts and not a theological statement to challenge anyone’s belief.

First, when one is born again he or she becomes joint-heirs with the Christ (Romans 8:17). This blessing is experienced in many diverse ways. The apostle Paul specifically addressed the New Testament Church in regard to suffering as part of the believers’ life in Jesus Christ. Jesus in His humanity suffered greatly. When one wants to be Christ-like he or she is saying in a sense that they want to not only be like Him in His glory but like Him as He suffered and died here among us. The Christian life is not always comfortable and convenient but also at times painful.

Second, Paul reminded believers that the future glory would indeed far outweigh the suffering that they were experiencing. It is true for us today that we will one day leave this present stage of suffering and enjoy the blessing of glory through Christ in heaven. Therefore when considering Paul’s theology of suffering it can be said that he believed suffering was as much a part of the believers life as any other aspect of Christian living.

Third, “the love of Christ” which has been granted to the believer is a promise that one can hold on to and know that it cannot be taken away from him or her.  And because of this great promise we can know that we are more than conquerors through what Jesus Christ has already done on the cross in our behalf.  Paul saw suffering not as negative or fatalistic but also as a positive way the believer could share in the work of Jesus Christ.  Suffering was a positive way for Paul to live for Christ. Paul told Timothy that he suffered and that anyone who chose to follow Christ could expect to suffer for His sake. This indicates that Paul believed that the more one was devoted to Christ the more he or she might suffer for Christ. The attitude the believer should have toward suffering should be different than the unbeliever.  Yes, we suffer and grieve but not as those with no grace and/or hope (2 Corinthians 12:8, 1 Thessalonians 4:13).

There is no salvation merit in our suffering. Christ paid the price for our salvation/redemption at Calvary. Because of what Jesus has already done in His death and resurrection we can, as vessels, show the World Jesus through our Christian living. The suffering we are now experiencing or will experience in this life is only temporal (2 Corinthians 4:17). Our faith will become a reality in the future glory that we will possess through Him who died for us. We shall see Him!

The pain is real but the promises of God are as well. Christ said He would never leave us (Matthew 28:20).

One of my favorite hymns is When We See Christ by Esther Kerr Rusthoi. For those who might be suffering I hope the following words bring you some comfort:

Oft times the day seems long, our trials hard to bear,
We’re tempted to complain, to murmur and despair;
But Christ will soon appear to catch His Bride away,
All tears forever over in God’s eternal day.

Refrain
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Sometimes the sky looks dark with not a ray of light,
We’re tossed and driven on , no human help in sight;
But there is one in heav’n who knows our deepest care,
Let Jesus solve your problem – just go to Him in pray’r.

Refrain
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Life’s day will soon be o’er, all storms forever past,
We’ll cross the great divide, to glory, safe at last;
We’ll share the joys of heav’n – a harp, a home, a crown,
The tempter will be banished, we’ll lay our burden down.

Refrain
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

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