I am convinced that suffering for the Lord is the most difficult thing to do, second to fighting the will of God. Everything within my human, sinful heart wants to go against it. I want to find a shortcut instead, any means of escape, but I cannot. There is no shortcut around the will of God, you either do it or you don’t. So where does that leave me? To suffer for God.
But it doesn’t have to be completely agonizing. The amazing thing about suffering is that we have the choice as to who gets the glory. Will it glorify me? The perpetrator? Or will it glorify God? Will we use our agony, persecution, and anguish to glorify the Lord? Will we let Him use our broken and hurt circumstances to receive all the praise and honor?
Don’t get me wrong, this is not an easy feat. What we suffer is not something to just laugh about or write off, but it is something to point us toward and give us a source of hope. This takes meditating in the Word, praying often, fasting to deny our human selves, and worshiping and praising our Creator. We can find a bright side to all this doom and gloom, and we are allowed to have bad days. We are allowed to cherish our pain, but we are also allowed to give our pain to God, because He wants us to. Your pain can turn into His glory.
An example? Jesus. He came to the Father face to the ground, sweating blood, and terrified of what was to come. He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will… My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (Matthew 26:39, 42). Wow. Jesus really does know what I’m going through, because He went through it all Himself. He had to humble Himself through this prayer and gave us a clear example that God’s will is much more significant than ours. We cannot take the shortcuts – even Jesus asked about it – and the answer was clear: no, His will is greater than mine. He must increase and I must decrease (John 3:30).
Have you been betrayed, lonely, sick, abused, hurt, persecuted, or all of these? Well, there is Good News: Jesus.
Jesus is here to turn your circumstances into the glorification of God. And now we have the choice to choose joy and glorify Christ in our sufferings (Philippians 1:29 and 1 Peter 4:1-2). We were given a disclaimer from the beginning that to follow Jesus Christ, we would experience suffering for His name (Luke 21:12 & Mark 10:29-30).
Experiencing this pain can also give comfort to others. Like the old saying, “you never know what another person is going through.” When we confess what we are going through, your brother or sister might be having the same problems – and your hope in Jesus might help him/her to see our Lord in all the suffering, too. In 1 Peter 5:8-11, it says to be on guard because the enemy will try his hardest to attack us when we least expect it, but take heart because we are not alone. Not only do we have Jesus, but our brothers and sisters in Christ are going through the same thing! We are all fighting this together!
And I’ll be real with you, it’s not easy. Like I said, there are no shortcuts and everything within our human nature repels this. However, when you suffer, you can call on His name and receive His assurance and comfort – “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
Take heart, my sister – you are not alone. Not only are we all suffering with you, but our Lord Jesus is suffering with you, too. So let’s give Him the glory together.
By Emma Rabalais