For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 2:25
Worth it in the End
“Now I see!” Isn’t it a wonderful relief when it finally dawns on you? You could never understand why something so terrible had happened, but now you get it. The suffering begins to make sense. It’s as if the veil has been lifted, and all the darkness has turned to light.
The Old Testament believer Joseph had endured a lifetime’s worth of such darkness. His lousy brothers had sold him into slavery. His Egyptian master’s wife had falsely accused him, prompting his master to throw him into prison. He was separated from his beloved father for years, forced to live in a strange land. One miserable day of suffering, after another.
And then it happened. God filled him in on the why. The whole region was struck by famine. By that time, Joseph was second-in-command in all Egypt, in charge of distributing the stored-up food when who should show up but his hungry brothers. Joseph could hardly contain himself.
But it wasn’t the feeling of revenge that got him choked up. It was his thankfulness. Joseph finally understood the reason for all that suffering. He said to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). For Joseph, it was worth it in the end.
Joseph’s suffering to save his family from hunger was nothing compared to Jesus’ suffering to save the world from sin and death. But Jesus, too, understood that his suffering would be worth it in the end and for all eternity.
And that goes for our suffering, as well. We might not understand it now, but God has a good reason for it. As Saint Peter reminds us, our suffering has the divine purpose of inducing straying sheep like you and me into the safe and saving arms of our Good Shepherd, Jesus. Saint Peter wrote, “‘…you were like sheep going astray,’ now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25). And one day we will see that this will make our suffering worth it in the end.
Jesus, help me see your loving purposes even in my suffering. Amen.