The end of suffering–an easy or eternal life?

Let’s bring this series of blogs on suffering to a close with some concluding thoughts.

When both Paul and James said to rejoice in suffering, it is because the maturing Christian understands that there is a reason for it.  Romans 5:3 says, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”  Likewise, James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

There may also be a greater result than your own spiritual growth.  You will have a ministry to others in similar circumstances.  2 Corinthians 1:3-5 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”

Remember these two points when you suffer–you can grow spiritually into more godly character and others could be helped as well.  Joseph’s ordeal of slavery led to the saving of many lives during the famine.  And Jesus’ suffering is the perfect example of undergoing adversity and suffering so others could be saved.

Yet in all honesty, my goal is an easy life.  Jesus put that short-sighted perspective in its place when He said this: “‘What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?’”  This passage from Matthew 16:26 give a new way at looking at suffering.  What if you never had problems yet lost your soul?  What if you never suffered a day and then went to hell?  While our goal is an easy life, God’s goal is eternal life.  1 Timothy 2:4 declares, “He (God) wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

So on earth we need to persevere, walking humbly with God.  Remember also the words of Romans 15:4.  It points out, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

One final word of consolation.  On this side of heaven, we may not understand exactly why all things happen the way that they do.  But in heaven we’ll understand fully.  Our suffering and pain will be explained, and the tangled and messy tapestry of our life will be revealed to be the beautiful work of art that God designed.  Read 1 Corinthians 13:12–“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

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February 26, 2019

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