Monday, January 26, 2009
God's Perspective on Suffering
Please read Hebrews 2:9-18. The secret of suffering is perspective. The secret of getting through suffering and enduring suffering, is perspective. Suffering is the very reason some Hebrews in the first century said, "We have no more time for the Savor. Give us the comforts of yesteryear." Here the subject changes from the glory to the grind of life. Sin has taken such as toll that it leaves a complication which we all experience, suffering. Christ brings us perspective, and only in Him can we view suffering correctly. First, Jesus is the pioneer of perfecting. Our salvation came through the womb of pain, as does our maturing in Christ. Bringing sons into glory requires a painful process. Pain is not an enemy, but a friend. In life suffering makes and matures us. Jesus gave Himself in death. The writer puts his finger on the secret of perseverance when he says "We see Him." Apart from Christ, we have no accurate view of our present circumstances, whatever they may be. The term author means "Pioneer" suggesting one who blazes a trail so that others can follow. Here the scene is not one of a wilderness or jungle, but of salvation. Jesus Christ stands at the other end of His path, bidding us to come where He is. It should be of interest to us that the author of salvation has been perfected through suffering. Jesus purposes to bring sons to glory. "To perfect through sufferings." God's plan for us includes suffering. The term to perfect contains the thought of "Bringing to completion." Second, Christians are the subject of suffering. The above passage lists four familiar areas of suffering that force us to look to Jesus for relief and strength. Each type of suffering is terribly difficult to endure. 1. The pain of identification. It is suffering that identifies Jesus with humanity. Without it, He could never have said "I fully understood". 2. The pain of enslavement. When each of us was without Christ, our only choice was to do wrong. At times the consequences of past involvements, along with moments of feeling guilt, spill over into our new lives. 3. The pain of failure. When we fail, we suffer. Failure is painful, it hurts us deeply. The writer of Hebrews again points our focus to Jesus in order to help us preserve our perspective. When we sin we find a Priest who is to us a refuge. 4. The pain of temptation. None of us needs that explained. The Greek says "He is able to run to the cry." When we are tempted, all we need to do is call to Him and He is there. Why? Because He knows what it is to be tempted. Third, the perspective of glory and groaning. Romans 8:23 refers to our painful experience as "Groaning." It is something that goes on continuously as we wait "Eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body." We may wrap us this teaching with three statement of perspective. 1. Our groaning gives us the glory of a compassionate heart. 2. Our groaning crushes us into the glory of a submissive spirit. 3. Our groaning marks us with the glory of a Christlike life. How has suffering given you greater compassion toward others? How has suffering produced in you greater submission toward God? How has suffering marked you with a Christlike life which you can display to the world? Do you need a new perspective on suffering? Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.