I realize I’ve blogged a lootttt on the topic of suffering. I write from where I’m at. I write what is on my heart and what God speaks to me. I write because I feel called to (and heck, I like it) and to hopefully encourage people. I’ve written a lot on hardship and I feel like it’s a good thing because people can relate. I certainly don’t think we should (or need to) minimize our pain.
Suffering is an undeniable part of life. If you are walking this Earth with feet of clay you are going to have to contend with pain and difficult trials.
But I believe that suffering has an expiration date. We are not here to suffer. We are here to enjoy intimacy with our God and live in victory and freedom.
“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” Romans 5:17
Suffering is always a means to an end. The end being that God is glorified.
As I was getting ready for church yesterday I was thinking about the story of Lazarus. Lazarus was a very close friend of Jesus. Lazarus had two sisters that were very close with Jesus as well; Martha and Mary (who have their own story, but for another time).
Lazarus had gotten very sick. A messenger ran to get Jesus. Jesus waited 2 whole days before leaving to come see Lazarus, the text says he waited until he knew that Lazarus had died.
Martha and Mary are understandably upset. When Jesus does show up, Martha runs out to meet him. “Lord, if you had been here, he wouldn’t have died!”
Jesus looks deep into her eyes and makes this powerful statement, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
They were just hoping that Jesus would heal him. Jesus had different plans. He went to the grave, where he had been buried 4 days prior. He comforts Mary and Martha and even weeps with them. He knows our pain, because it’s his pain.
“Roll the stone away.”
“But Lord, there will be an awful smell…”
“Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
So they roll the stone away and Lazarus is raised from the grave.
I got to church and what was the pastor preaching on? The story of Lazarus and how it relates to us. It was a God-thing. We brought our son up to have him prayed for after the service. This morning he looked a good 50% better with most of the redness and swelling gone and months-old wounds showing signs of dramatic improvement. We know he got a special touch from God and we are believing that he will receive complete healing.
We serve an awesome God.
There is a powerful message in this story. We may suffer, yes. But we know that at some point Jesus is going to come into our situation and command some stones to be rolled away. When Jesus shows up, he brings life with him. He is our healer. He is 100% good. He is 100% for us.
Ultimately, for us who believe, we will be completely healed. We don’t know the time table, but we know the one who does. Jesus triumphed completely over death and the grave. One day, death will be swallowed up.
In life we will always have an element of suffering. We live in a fallen World. I have my own share of suffering, as do you. But I also have so much joy.
“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
“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.” 1 Peter 5:10
Suffering doesn’t get the final say.