“Suffering is a part of the process by which the sons of God are sanctified. They are chastened to wean them from the world, and make them partakers of God’s holiness. The Captain of their salvation was ‘made perfect through suffering’ and so are they.” – J.C. Ryle
Suffering is a part of life that nobody wants to go through. It was Aeschylus who said, “He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.” The Lord takes His children down a path that is not easy. He sets them apart from others, sanctifies them, and makes them partakers of His holiness. Even Jesus had to learn through suffering. Hebrews 5:8 says, “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.”
I think suffering brings us closer to God because we understand more of Him. The closer you walk with God the more consecrated you will be as well. You may find yourself alone in your suffering. You may even try to explain to someone what you’re going through, but more than likely they will not be able to understand. They may say they do, but you cannot really understand suffering until you have been through it.
It’s like a woman who has had a baby and a woman who has not had a baby. I could tell someone who has not had a child what it’s like to go through labor and even explain in detail the process, but if she has not yet gone through it herself she does not and will not fully understand. Why? It’s because she does not have a testimony in it and, therefore, cannot possibly understand by experience what I’m saying until she has her own baby.
Easter is about the resurrection of Christ. We are reminded of Jesus’ suffering, but we are also reminded of His resurrection from the dead (I Corinthians 15:3-4). What did Jesus do for us? He suffered and died on the cross for our sins (Isaiah 53:5; Romans 5:8). We, as Christians, are called to die daily (I Corinthians 15:31). We are promised trials, temptations, persecutions, and more (2 Timothy 3:12), but the Lord also promised that He would never leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
To everything there is a season. Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 3-4 says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the Heaven… A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance… ” And the beauty of it all comes in verse 11 where he says, “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also He hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”
We don’t always know what the Lord is doing with us. We can’t always see the purpose in it all. Sometimes we have not a clue as to the trials we face and why, but all things work together for good to those who love God and those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
Through our suffering, we come to know more of the heart of Christ, we come to understand better the plight of others, we draw closer to God, and we become more moldable and usable in His service. Take heart my friends, for you will see the Lord’s purpose in the end.