[W]e glory in our sufferings . . .
Let’s start with the reality that suffering has already placed each of us on its calendar.
Many of us already know this. As many of you read or listen to these words, suffering has already arrived. Perhaps you’re in your third round of chemo treatments. Perhaps you’re in the middle of your parents’ bitter divorce. Perhaps schoolmates are on social media saying vicious things about you for their amusement. Perhaps your spouse is in the final stages of dementia. Perhaps your latest surgery has done nothing to correct your chronic back pain. Perhaps your child is breaking your heart.
However, others of us may not yet know. We may not know that suffering has already placed each of us on its calendar. Oh, sure, we know it in theory. But theory is one thing. Real life is quite another.
And so, what to do? What to do when the suffering arrives?
When it came to suffering, the Holy Spirit moved the Apostle Paul to make a statement that simply sounds outlandish. Paul had the nerve to say that “we…glory in our sufferings.”
“We…glory in our sufferings?” Such a statement is crazy, senseless, comfortless—until we understand what Paul is saying in the context of our relationship with Jesus Christ.
You and I are here in this broken, chaotic world to give clear witness to what God has done for us in Jesus. And while the Lord uses suffering in our lives for many things, Paul understood that suffering was often one of the greatest ways by which others can see that we mean what we say.
Suffering is the dark background by which you and I can more easily shine the light of Jesus in our lives. We can shine the light of his forgiveness purchased at Calvary’s cross. We can shine the light of his resurrection. We can shine the light of every single one of his promises. And in a disappointed world that craves authenticity, the Good News of Jesus can use our sufferings to deliver just that.
Lord Jesus, when my suffering arrives, give me courage. Give me courage so that others can see that your Gospel is true. Amen.