Are the days getting harder for you? It seems my life is fairly peaceful right now, but some of my closest friends are in major crises. Life will not be the same for them for many reasons: sickness, loss, betrayal, bitterness, and feelings of emptiness that follow such pain are invading their lives with a diabolic force that seems to have far more power in their lives than any of it rightfully deserves.
Pain, in its various forms is all around, and good people are suffering in ways I am not sure we can imagine if we’re not right there in the middle of it with them. Pain, however it comes, can serve a mighty purpose in our lives, but the trick is to let God work it for good in us. Easier said than done. I am certain that my hurting friends want desperately to let Christ come in and take over, but something in their inner man keeps trying to rise up and be the one in charge. It’s a minute by minute struggle to remember that God is in control of all of it, and they can rest in knowing that. Why we even want to take charge in situations like that is beyond my comprehension, yet I find myself doing the very same thing. I don’t know about you, but I need to know pain and suffering serve a bigger purpose. There simply has to be more to pain in this world.
Christ, as the suffering servant found in Isaiah 53 shows us a beautiful picture of the one who knew His suffering, though horrific, served the most grace-filled purpose of all–“because he poured out his life unto death by his knowledge, my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.” He knew every kind of pain and suffering, but He willingly went like a lamb to the slaughter on our behalf, so that we might share in the great inheritance of our Father, and stand before the Throne of Grace as cleansed and made righteous by that faithful suffering servant.
The really unfathomable thing about suffering is found in Romans 8:17. “We share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” To behold His glory, we get to suffer, and in that process, be transformed into Christ’s likeness. Suffering is painful, and being transformed from glory to glory is hard work. It isn’t for those who like comfort too much. But it holds the mightiest Reward we can imagine if we allow God to do His miraculous work in us. It is painful, and hard, but St. Paul reminds us that the momentary sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18 )
In suffering, there is meaning for each of us to take on Christ’s likeness in our lives, and let God use that suffering for a greater cause—an eternal one. Whatever happens to us, we simply have to know we will be okay, because He is with us and will never forsake us. We can grow embittered or be transformed—it is our choice. If suffering is inevitable and just the results of that suffering is our only option, I choose to ask Christ to “have at me,” as we say around here. Please Lord, let suffering do its work in us! And let us remember those who suffer this night. Help us to submit to Your Will as it allows us to see and testify to Your Glory in ever-increasing bounty. Amen.