“Jesus lost all his glory so that we could be clothed in it. He was shut out so we could get access. He was bound, nailed, so that we could be free. He was cast out so we could approach. And Jesus took away the only kind of suffering that can really destroy you: that is being cast away from God. He took that so that now all suffering that comes into your life will only make you great. A lump of coal under pressure becomes a diamond. And the suffering of a person in Christ only turns you into somebody gorgeous.” – C.S. Lewis.
J. Oswald Saunders said. “We are at this moment as close to God as we really choose to be. True, there are times when we would like to know a deeper intimacy, but when it comes to the point, we are not prepared to pay the price involved.” There is a price to pay for following Jesus. Sometimes that price is pain and trials in our lives. There is no way to escape that fact.
The Bible is full of stories that illustrate that fact. There are numerous stories of people going through trials and how those experiences drew them closer to God. God could have kept Joseph out of jail, kept Daniel out of the lion’s den, kept Paul from being shipwrecked, and kept the three Hebrew young men from being thrown into the blazing furnace, but He didn’t. He let those problems happen. Not exactly what any of those people had in mind when they decided to follow God. But, each of those people were drawn closer to God as a result.
Trials and problems force us to look to God and depend on Him instead of ourselves. Paul testified to this benefit: “In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:9).
Does this mean it is God’s will for me as a Christian to suffer? At first glance, the answer seems simply . . . yes. But, there is more to it than that. God is not letting us suffer aimlessly, randomly, or mindlessly but that you suffer for the purpose of doing good and, more importantly, that you grow from that suffering. To put it another way: there is always a bigger story encompassing the painful place in which we find ourselves. God is always up to something much bigger. And while we may not focus on or even be aware of the bigger God-story in the midst of our suffering, the God-story is still there.
Nothing testifies to the deep, authentic reality of God’s presence in the life of a believer like watching that believer keep their eyes on Jesus while enduring trials in this life; it is perhaps the greatest testimony for the Christian faith some people will ever see.
- How can we see the benefits of pain in our lives?
- Is it possible to be a better witness through trials of this life?