Suffering: For God's Glory and Your Good
By Chelsea Patterson Sobolik
We’re guaranteed to suffer for two reasons. The first is because sin infected everything in our world. When sin entered, nothing in the realm of creation escaped its destroying touch. It ushered in general suffering, such as natural disasters and disease. The second reason is because suffering is a part of being a Christ follower.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Pet. 4:12–13)
Christians need not wonder why we are suffering. Rather we rejoice that we are allowed to follow in Christ’s example of suffering.
In his last hours on earth, Christ reiterated the certainty of suffering in a Christian’s life by stating, “In the world you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33). This verse would be incredibly difficult to bear if that is all Scripture said about the subject. However in the very next breath, Christ gives the ultimate encouragement when he says, “But take heart, I have overcome the world.”
Whatever kind of suffering you are experiencing, take heart knowing your Savior has overcome the world. The one who died for you experienced the ultimate suffering, leaving his heavenly throne, stepping into human flesh, living a perfect live and then dying in your place to take the wrath for your sins. In Christ we have the greatest example of how to suffer well.
Purpose of Suffering
For Christians enduring this fallen world, suffering has two purposes: God’s glory and our good.
When we respond to suffering well, we practically demonstrate to the unbelieving world that Christ is more glorious and precious to us than any pain and difficulty we might endure. We have the opportunity to show where and in whom we find our true treasure. By placing our ultimate hope in Christ rather than in the temporary things of this world, God receives the glory.
Yet while we can maybe see how suffering well gives glory to God, we find it hard to imagine how suffering can possibly be for our good.
Suffering sanctifies and purifies us. When earthly pleasures, things, and people are stripped out of our lives, it reveals where we have mistakenly placed our hope. Suffering draws us closer to Christ, because we don’t have the worldly comforts to rely on. The Lord knows that we have no greater good than to gaze firmly upon him and not the things of the world.
“Article excerpt taken from The Gospel Coalition (U.S. Edition). Read the full resource here: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/suffering-for-gods-glory-and-your-good/”