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How Do You Suffer?

by Dennae Pierre Published Jun 10, 2011

Dan’s post on adoption & suffering earlier this week was perfect timing. The theme of suffering has been on my mind these last several months. I love how Dan showed us the great hope our adoption brings to our suffering and how he unpacked this in relation to the pain of adoption.

There is a way in which we can suffer well or suffer poorly. Suffering is everywhere. We suffer because evil is done to us. We suffer because Satan, the father of lies, attacks us. We suffer because our own sin produces terrible consequences and more suffering. We suffer because of our fallen creation that produces famine, disease, and drought. We suffer because our world is not the way it was meant to be.

So what do we do with this suffering?  There is often a misconception within the church that Christians who face trials will always grow and be stronger as a result. But that is not always the case. Yes, sometimes suffering produces strong, joyful Christians. Other times suffering produces anger, bitterness, and despair…yes, even in the believer! What is the difference?

The difference is that sometimes when we face suffering, we forget the good news of Jesus Christ. We get so focused on the pain around us that we lose sight of the truth that we are a son or daughter of the living and true God! We forget that we have been adopted.

Let’s look at Romans 5. But let’s look at it from a different perspective. I am going to re-write Romans 5 as though it were not true. Here is what Romans 5 would say if we did not have the hope of being justified and redeemed by God:

Therefore, we have not been justified by faith; therefore, we are at war with God. We do not know Jesus Christ, so how can we have access into the grace of God? How can we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God since we can only know his wrath?  Because of that, we cannot rejoice in our sufferings. No, we despair in our sufferings. And in our despair, we give up. And when we give up, our character begins to fail and grow weak. And our weak character produces hopelessness. And this hopelessness fills us with shame, because we do not have God’s love within our hearths and we have never received the Holy Spirit.

Spend a second praising God that the above paragraph is far from true in the life of the believer! Oh how precious and glorious it is to know that we are children of God because we have been made right with God through our faith (not our works) in Jesus Christ.  Yet, even though my rendition of Romans 5 is so false, too often it is exactly how we face our sufferings. We experience suffering and we do not rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Instead, we complain, we give up, we make more sinful choices, we grow hopeless, and we wallow in shame. We suffer poorly.

But praise be to God! We can suffer well because we have been filled with the Holy Spirit. We can suffer well because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.  We can suffer well because we have a beautiful thing to rejoice in! We can rejoice in the fact that we have been justified by faith and are at peace with God. We can rejoice in the fact that God has adopted us. I pray these truths can fill you with joy and hope as you face times of suffering!

Romans 5:1-4  Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

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