As I write this I am thinking about many in our community of Grant County Kentucky and even our church who are suffering. The disease of cancer, a bad heart, a struggling financial situation, family turmoil, bouts of depression, and persecutors of the church have or are currently hurting them. I (like many others) often wrestle with the question of why suffering happens to us as believers. Shoot this may be one of the biggest question non-believers and believers alike wrestle with. I am not going to tackle this question fully however I am going to share this verse in Hebrews which might be of some help for us: Hebrews 5:8 says, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.”
This verse hits home for me in these trying circumstances because it lets me know that our savior Jesus Christ understands what you and I are going through. There are many other verses throughout the New Testament to support the idea meant to comfort us that Jesus understands. Here is one from Hebrews 4:15 which says this: ”For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus understands because he himself has been through the temptations, trials and sufferings. Think about it: the Son of God who created the universe (John 1, Hebrews 1) went through the temptation of Satan, family turmoil (his brothers and sisters didn’t believe he was the Son of God), hatred in his hometown (they tried to kill him) and intense persecution (death on a cross). So do you think he understands your circumstances?
Yet this verse is not only in the text to comfort us but to teach us. It is there to show us that one of the main sources of education for the believer outside of the Bible is suffering! Think about it: after a period of suffering you are more than likely going to have the greatest growth of your obedience and faith. You are going to grow in obedience because you recognize there is but one place to turn Jesus. You’re going to grow in your faith because you recognize there is only one reason you got through that trying time and that was God. I can only answer for myself when I say that my times of suffering are the greatest times of growth, now that does not mean I like these times of suffering.
Another aspect of this text is that we are still learning from Christ’s sufferings today. Think about it this way the world will learn what it means to follow Christ by the way you handle your suffering. The way that you react will reflect whom your trust is in, for Jesus we get to look back on his sufferings and say he trusted in his father! He didn’t let suffering deter him from doing the job that the father had called him to do. Let it be for us as it was for Christ. Let others see us rise above the suffering, let others see us handle suffering from others with grace and love. Let others see us handle suffering from medical circumstances with endurance. I know these times are hard but others are watching which means they are learning!
So with this text in mind remember that you are not alone, Jesus understands. With this text in mind take bouts of suffering head-on, as this will be your source of growth. With this in mind relish in the idea that you get to learn as Christ did, and celebrate that you are joining Christ in his sufferings.