Focal Passage: Mark 8:34-38; 9:33-37; 10:32-34
C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pain.”
God didn’t give us a cushioned world; otherwise, our souls would be too soft to endure earthly conflicts. As with physical pain, spiritual suffering calls our attention to something that needs correction.
While reviewing my own spiritual sufferings, I found I had reaped one or more benefits: stronger character, attained goals, and growth in love, understanding, patience, and faith. An extended illness delivered me power to help others, and newfound scriptures enriched my relationship with God.
Suffering is part of life. When Jesus’ sufferings recorded in Mark 10:32-34 did not satisfy His enemies, they crucified Him.
Suffering leaves us two choices: We can become bitter, put God on trial, demanding, “Why did You do this to me?” Or we can grow better, asking, “What will You teach me through this, Lord, that I might bring glory to You?”
Because right is right and wrong is wrong, some suffering is punitive. At other times, it’s disciplinary. We’ve all observed people drawing close to God during adversity while rejecting Him in prosperity. Sometimes suffering is sacrificial, as was Jesus’ suffering for us on the cross.
There’s a favorite sacrificial love story concerning Emily who hated herself because she was blind. In fact, she hated everyone except her boyfriend who was always there for her. Emily said that if she could ever see the world, she would marry him.
One day someone donated a pair of eyes to her. Now she could see everything. Her boyfriend asked, “Now that you can see, will you marry me?” Emily was shocked to find that her boyfriend was blind, too, and refused to marry him. He walked away in tears and later wrote her, saying, “Just take care of my eyes, dear.”
The good news is that suffering is temporary and will find explanation in heaven where we’ll be remade in Christ’s image.
When Anna felt that she had undergone every possible calamity, her mother broke her hip. Anna responded, “I know the Lord won’t send me more trouble than I have strength to bear, but I do wish He didn’t have such a high opinion of me.”
How shall you and I allow suffering to make us? Bitter … or better?