When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
1 Peter 2:23
A Favorite Teacher
Have you had a favorite teacher in your life? I have.
Why was he my favorite? Not because he was tough, and certainly not because I dreaded entering his classroom. He was my favorite because he was fun, easygoing, and interesting. Best of all, he loved to hand out A’s.
I’ve had other teachers whom I didn’t like so well. Their classes were hard, sometimes confusing. Some were unfair; others boring. In those cases, I was thankful when the school year came to an end. I was finished with them—forever!
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could say that about suffering? “I’m finished with it forever!” But Professor Suffering has a way of dragging us back into his classroom and even keeping us past the bell.
Or didn’t you know that suffering is our divinely-sent teacher?
Martin Luther knew that. He knew it all too well, in fact. He was speaking from experience when he once wrote a grieving friend, “This is the school in which God disciplines us and teaches us to trust in him so that our faith may not always stay in our ears and hover on our lips but may have its true dwelling place in the depth of our hearts.” Luther may not have considered suffering his favorite teacher, but it was one of his best.
Why? Because suffering teaches patience. Indeed, patience means “longsuffering.” When we suffer, we’re learning how to be patient with God and with others. Peter says that when Jesus suffered, “he did not retaliate . . . he made no threats.” Suffering taught him patience, yes, perfect patience for sinners like you and me.
The other chief lesson that suffering teaches us is trust. When Jesus suffered unjustly, “he entrusted himself to him who judges justly”—his heavenly Father. Rather than taking matters into our own hands, suffering teaches us, as it taught Jesus, to entrust matters to our perfectly just God.
Patience and trust are not easy to learn. But when you’re in Professor Suffering’s classroom, you’re learning from the very best. And through faith in Jesus, we all get an A+.
Father, help me learn the lessons you desire to teach me through suffering. Amen.