No one likes the word suffering, it means pain, discomfort, sickness. Yet, we have suffering as long we live on the broken, sin-infested earth.
Abandonment afflicts children.
Lack leaves hungry bellies and empty bank accounts.
What is the purpose of suffering?
I have pondered this question much over the last year as I have suffered illness and the past twelve years as I have watched my children, handicapped from wounds of the their traumatic past.
Does suffering has a purpose or is it just the result of living in a fallen world where people use their free will to mistreat others?
Last week I started some new medications which “will initially give you Flu-like symptoms and make you feel worse”- my doctor.
“Do not get discouraged!” he said, reminding me that I would begin to improve after the initial symptoms.
Suffer to heal. Where have I heard that?
Jesus suffered the pain of the cross for the joy set before Him.
Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
We have to suffer to heal:
denying the flesh,
facing the past,
plowing new ground to sow better seeds,
letting go of hurt to reach for healing.
2Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.
3Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
4But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing. James 1: 2-4
Our response to suffering is more important than escaping it. This is a hard good word. ‘Consider it wholly joyfully’? In most instances, we want to escape pain not be joyful about it.
Give thanks in all circumstances…. I Thessalonians 5:18
All things work together for good…. Romans 8:28
Those who suffer are able to empathize with others who suffer.
Who comforts (consoles and encourages) us in every trouble (calamity and affliction), so that we may also be able to comfort (console and encourage) those who are in any kind of trouble or distress, with the comfort (consolation and encouragement) with which we ourselves are comforted (consoled and encouraged) by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5