By Josiah Espinoza| November 20th, 2018
Life is full of unbearable suffering and it is quite easy to run from the pain. You can easily hide from it behind a bottle. You can numb yourself from it with drugs. Or you can choose to bear your suffering, to pick up your cross and suffer well, all the while glorifying God who is sovereign over your suffering.
1 Peter 4:12-13 says, “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.” We cannot walk around this life with wild eyed naivete never expecting for any kind of pain to come our way. The Christian must prepare his mind and heart for the kind of suffering that would crush any person. The death of a child, cancer in the family, suicide, divorce, the death of your parents, all of these things are an inevitable realities for those who live on this earth and this is especially true for Christians. We must never expect God to grant us unrealistic expectations of a “good” and painless life. He did not even spare his own Son who was brutally and violently tortured, his skin ripped open, his face beaten unrecognizable and his hands and feet nailed to a cross. Who are we that we would think we would not suffer as Christ did?
Peter tells us not to be surprised at our suffering. All of our suffering has a divine and transcendent purpose, and we know that God is sovereign over our suffering. He wills our suffering just as he willed the suffering of his Son (Is. 53:10). Why? Because he knows that when we share Christ’s suffering it is not in vain, it is not without meaning. So, let us rejoice in our suffering knowing that pain, disease and death cannot separate us from the love of God (Rm. 8:35-37) and our victory in Christ is not a “pain free life” but a life that can courageously stare death in the face and not cower. Pick up your cross, bear your suffering with courage. If you do so, like Christ, you will be ridiculed, spit on, and pummeled by life and by the enemy. But keep before your eyes the reality of eschatological glory and hope, when we will see our King face to face. We will be resplendent with glory, he will embrace us and he will lift our countenance.
“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” ~ 1 Peter 4