I wrote a book on suffering. I believe I know something about suffering. But someone who has suffered more than me may feel I don’t know as much as they do. Suffering, God’s secret weapon. God is building souls in us and God exercises tough love for us to build those souls to prepare us for eternity. God understands the value of what suffering does to us. We, as humans, don’t want to suffer. We don’t want to be inconvenienced at all. But God is always looking at the larger picture.
But it’s always good to read about suffering for me. It helps understand why we have it in our lives. I used to say that the people who don’t suffer may not have the stuff in them God is looking for. But I have come to see that we all suffer to some degree. No one escapes it. Everyone in the world suffers. You might not know of their suffering or see it but it’s there. Some people see the suffering and fight against it and this brings more suffering. Some people see their own suffering and rest, yes they do all they can to aid themselves, but all the while they rest and trust God. This brings them through the suffering in the way God wants and brings them through a better person, with the gold refined.
Below is an excerpt from my friend Tom Adcox’s devotion condensed over the last couple days. This is similar to the testimony I give when speaking. Please enjoy this read:
For it was fitting for him, because of whom are all things and through whom are all things, having brought many sons to glory, to mature the originator of their salvation through sufferings. (Heb. 2.10) He, though being a Son, learned obedience from the things he suffered. (Heb. 5.8)
The Lord Jesus was God in the flesh during his days on earth, yet he had to be matured through suffering. He was sinless, but he had to learn obedience through suffering. How could God in the flesh and a sinless man need to be matured and to learn obedience? I would say that it is because he chose to become a human being and live as we do, and we have to be matured and to learn obedience through suffering. If God in the flesh had to be matured and to learn obedience through suffering, how much more do we? We all tend, I think, to try to wriggle out of our trials or to ask God the get us out of them. His answer is that he got us into the trial for a reason. He is trying to mature us and to teach us obedience so that we will be prepared for his kingdom. There are rewards beyond salvation, and those rewards can be lost. If you have trusted Christ as your Savior, you have eternal life and will never lose it, but you can forfeit rewards that you might have gained. See, for example, Rev. 3.11, written to the model church of Philadelphia.
We are living in a time of trial, all the way from minor inconvenience to losing income, being sick, or losing loved ones and facing death ourselves. In this time, realize that God is trying to mature you and teach you obedience, just as he did his Son, so that as he will reign eternally, so may you reign with him (Rom. 8.17, 2 Tim. 2.12).
For the momentary light burden of our affliction is working for us an eternal weight of glory from hyperbole to hyperbole, we not looking at the things being seen, but the things not being seen. For the things being seen are temporary, but the things not being seen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4.17-18)
It is human nature to have our eyes on the things we can see, and right now we can see a crisis that threatens life and financial security. It is easy to get wrapped up in that. But God is much more concerned with what is unseen, the spiritual world and the coming new age. He does want us to have a good life now, but there will be hardships in this world. We all suffer losses and grief because of this present evil age (Gal. 1.4) which has an end, and our lives here are temporary. God is concerned to prepare us for his millennial kingdom and eternity. One will last a thousand years and the other forever! While what we are dealing with now seems to be a very heavy burden, it is working for us who are the Lord’s and are trusting in him an eternal weight of glory to which this momentary light affliction has no comparison. That eternal weight of glory goes from hyperbole to hyperbole.
Do you know what hyperbole is? It is the same word in both Greek and English. It is often used in poetry. It is a gross exaggeration designed to make a point or emphasize something. We often use hyperbole in our everyday speech: I’m so hungry I could eat a horse. No I can’t! But I am trying to convey how hungry I am, or think I am. God is telling us that the eternal weight of glory awaiting us is a gross exaggeration of the hardships we go through now. Take comfort in knowing what awaits us, and in knowing that it will never end, as the difficulties of this age will.