There are often good things that suffering brings into our lives. Much of suffering is not viewed as good. Our flesh cries out that these are bad things because they are painful and heartbreaking and we feel miserable.
However we feel about suffering, it is good for us.
“It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.” Psalm 119:71
Suffering teaches us about God and about ourselves. In the fires of suffering we learn what we are really made of, and we learn what we truly believe about God and who He is and who we are to Him. Suffering brings out our theology, and we learn if it is correct theology.
According to 1 Peter 2:21 suffering identifies us with Christ.
“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps”
Your identification in suffering may be just or unjust. You may be suffering because of the sin of another person in your life and a decision they made. You may be in the right legally and morally if you believe you are suffering unjustly at the hands of another- but that is not the point. A part of the calling we have received in salvation includes bearing up under unjust suffering as Christ did. The suffering of Christ was far from just.
Entrusting yourself to God when you are suffering from someone else’s sin is hard but not impossible. Christ left you the example of how to do it.
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
Jesus sacrificed Himself for all of us, He died taking all our sin upon Himself, that we would be justified in Him, that we would be permanently made right with God. His suffering was on our behalf. He suffered as He left the Father’s side and humbled Himself to become one of us (Phil 2) to live and walk among us. He suffered as he experienced humanity in every aspect. Hebrews 4:15 says Jesus can sympathize with us in all our weaknesses because He was in all ways tried and tested as we are. His family thought he was crazy before they came to believe He was truly the Son of God. He lost friends and relatives to death and sickness and injustice (John the Baptist, Lazarus)
He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. (Isa. 53:3)
Jesus was humiliated, and hung out to dry by his friends. He was abandoned and cursed at. The suffering of Christ on the cross was our suffering. It was not just – it was justice. It was God exacting the justice – the price He requires to satisfy the debt of our sin, and applying it to our account. That in every sense of the word is not “fair” it was not just.
As we bear up under the sins of others, and as we reap the consequences of the sin of others we have a place to go to learn how to do that. We have the privilege of following Christ – whose suffering was not just. We can look to Christ and see how He responded when swore at, how He responded when he was hurt or hated, or rejected.
Scripture is very helpful to us in understanding suffering for righteousness sake. A careful student of the Word will not be surprised because of how much the Bible says about it (1 Peter 5:6-10; 1 Peter 4:15-16; Luke 6:22.)
I hope you are beginning to see suffering in a new light!
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