He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed. Isaiah 53
Suffering is a part of life; it is something that all of us encounter, and it is inescapable. Oftentimes, the trials and circumstances of life come unannounced, and leave us with no warning or preparation. For truly, how can one prepare for an illness or a disease that might leave someone paralyzed or disabled in some way? And yet, as many know, these times in our lives, cause us much grief and sorrow. But we have someone who has traveled down these same roads before, and He is with us and even “in us” throughout these times.
We all have and know about the promises of God, and without them we would have no hope in his life. None of us want to go through trials or to face hardships, but God always seems to have a reason for these things. We all know about the saying, 'You reap what you sow,' but bad things also happen to people who follow after God.
I hear stories about people who trust in God with all their hearts, and they are obedient to him in so many ways. And yet these very same people have spouses or sons and daughters, who have overwhelming diseases and catastrophes in their lives. I hear the stories of how they have prayed for healing, have had hands laid upon them, and have been anointed with oil. They believed, they prayed earnestly for recovery and yet, the person is still afflicted. You say, perhaps their faith wasn’t strong enough. Perhaps there was some sin that prevented the healing from happening. Perhaps God in his infinite wisdom has let the malady stay there…Perhaps the thorn in the flesh has a reason for its existence.
And yet we are told in scripture that if we suffer with Him, then surely, we will be raised up with Him. And this doesn’t necessarily mean “just” awaiting our salvation and eternal home with Him. But as the waves of the ocean continue to bring the tides of hardships and trials our way towards the shoreline, we can be assured that in time, these same waves will subside. In due time we will reap, if we do not lose heart. And in due time, those periods of deep trials and suffering will come to an end, and then as they are lifted, our hearts are also lifted, as we see His hand changing the circumstances around us, and giving us His peace and rest.
12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: 2 Tim. 2:12
Are we to believe that this life that we now live in Christ is always to be paved with ease and to be free of pain? Are we to believe that we can simply just “speak those away in the name of Jesus?” Those who speak of such things, have an unbalanced view of the Bible, and actually, of the Christian life. Indeed, we do and should, speak those things that are not as though they were, for our faith resides in what we do not see. But again, if we are to be a true disciple and follower of Christ, then we must identify with Him, and the identifying is not “just” about living a life free of pain and trouble.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Are we not to learn our lesson from the ancient patriarch Job who lost everything, but even in his deepest suffering, still was able to praise God? We know that in the end his former possessions had been taken away from him, and in the end he received them back doubly. His flesh was healed, but his suffering was intense, and was something that perhaps only few of us, will ever encounter.
We all know about the suffering of Christ and all of the floggings and pain he endured, particularly as he faced the death on the cross for us. We are also told that as we are heirs with God that we will also share in his sufferings.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:17
The purposes of suffering are so that we might be molded into his image and become more like Him through the things that we suffer. But even in the midst of these trials, there is always the hope that not only will they yield the fruit of his righteousness, but that they will come to an end, and that there would be periods of time when we might rest from these trials and tribulations. Whereas before, the car breaks down, our relationships are strained, and there’s a leak in the roof. This time, a family member may be in the hospital, school has just started, and a son or daughter has decided that they aren’t willing to go to school anymore. These are normal problems that most of us face. However, there are other types of trials and persecutions that can last for even years. These are the types of things that Job faced. These are the types of things that many of the prophets of old faced, and now, we do as well.
Suffering must run its course. It is inescapable just like how the mighty river cuts through the cliffs and finds a new channel in its course. It is relentless. It doesn’t give up easily, but somehow, if we just hang on, it will subside and the tides will roll back, and we’ll be able to view the landscape before us with a new vision.