My Sunday School class as well as our Life Group talked about suffering this past week. I have been thinking about how often, when we are committed to someone or something, we can suffer pain, disappointment, and loss. I see this in the lives of two individuals in Scripture, Job and David. One experienced suffering because he was committed to God, while the other suffered because he was committed to himself.
For instance, being a Cubs fan, we suffer greatly for being true to the blue. I have had years and years of agony as I have seen the team I love lose over and over again. I suffer because I am committed.
In junior high, I was friends with a girl who was not popular with our peers. She was made fun of, and because I was her committed friend, I too was the target of some unkind words. I suffered because I was committed.
Job is the poster child for pain and suffering. This week I have been reading how he received four messages in a matter of minutes, each one worse than the first. His livestock, his home, and his children were destroyed. Job suffered not because of what he did, but because of WHO he was committed to. Many times I think that I, along with other Christians, should be exempt from suffering. Since we align ourselves with Christ, I feel as if I should live in victory and blessing each and every day. There has been a false theology that has seeped in to my heart that tempts me to believe that the closer I am to Jesus, the fewer problems I'll have. Job's situation proves the exact opposite. His intimacy with God is what exposed him to suffering. When we surrender ourselves to God, we have an enemy who focuses intently on destroying us so that we become ineffective. The closer I get to Jesus, the more the enemy fights for my soul. The bigger the target I become. Suffering does not escape believers. In fact, I think we are more susceptible. The enemy's hope is that if we suffer, we'll lose faith, and we will therefore cause others to do the same.
David also experienced a tremendous amount of suffering. David had an inappropriate relationship with a married woman, and as a result a child was born, and that innocent baby died shortly after. There are countless other mistakes David makes, and suffering ensues as a consequence. There are several passages of Scripture dedicated to David's lament over his loss. Some of the words are so painful for me to read, because I can imagine his hurt and utter grief. David suffered because he was committed to himself. He was loyal to his cause and his desires, and pain and consequence followed. David was hurt and tormented, and his suffering captivated him.
So, if I can suffer because I am committed to God, and I can suffer because I am committed to myself, it seems to be a no win situation. Honestly, that was my initial thought. But, I don't think the source of the suffering is the point here. I think suffering is a means to an end. Suffering is about HIM. If we, through our pain, can keep our eyes on Jesus, and remember that there is a season for everything, than He gets glory. Both Job and David suffered for a season, because of who they were committed to. Both Job and David were restored to victory, and blessing. Both Job and David saw the merciful hand of loving God. Both Job and David experienced redemption and restoration. Both Job and David suffered, but both ultimately gave God glory through their circumstances.
When I think about how suffering is a chance for God to be praised, I can understand a bit why it is a part of our lives. If I suffer, and don't give up, God gets glory. If I fail or sin, and God forgives me, than He gets glory. If I am hurt by someone, and I am knocked down, but get back up, He gets glory. If I am weak, and I make it through because of the strength He gives me, than God gets glory.
I am hoping that with this bit of revelation, I am better able to cope with life's ups and downs, and I pray that it doesn't take you 31 years to figure this out! Ha Ha.