In our reading this week in Mark chapters 14-16, we see a whole lot of suffering. There is hurt, betrayal, fear, grief, physical pain, emotional anguish, disillusionment, and death.
Jesus suffered most, by far, but the disciples suffered much, as well. Their friend Judas betrayed them, as well, when he betrayed their Lord. Jesus suffered the agony of torture before the cross, then the agony of the crucifixion and death. The disciples suffered the crushing heartache of losing their Master and Friend. Everyone suffered.
But, praise God, there is hope, too!
Because of Jesus—and all He suffered—there are many reasons for hope in our suffering today!
Are you feeling the pain of suffering right now? Is life weighing you down?
Whether you’re suffering with chronic sickness, or grief, or financial difficulties, or the ever-present heartache and concern for a wayward child…there are many reasons for hope!
Here are just 5 of those reasons for hope in our suffering.
1) God is near us!
The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:18
There is hope in our suffering because God is near to the broken-hearted—to give His peace, grace sufficient, and strength! (2 Corinthians 12:9) And isn’t God’s nearness something we His children crave?
As many of you know, our church family recently suffered the unexpected loss of our very young friend and pastor, Bro. Jared Decker. I remember a few days after his home-going, crying and praying. And in my prayer, I began to say, “I wish…” But I never finished the statement.
Something…the Holy Spirit…stopped me. I realized as I spoke those words, “I wish,” that I was becoming more anxious and upset in my spirit. So I began again, “Lord, I want what You want. Your way is perfect.”
Immediately peace flooded my soul! And once again my heart was restored with God’s calming peace.
God is so good to comfort us in our sorrow, to be with us in the pain of this life! He is truly the Comforter to the broken-hearted! He IS grace-sufficient and strength to the hurting! To those facing uncertain futures (and that covers all of us), He is our hope, our provision, our comfort.
2) God will use our suffering to make us more like Christ!
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:29
Christ-likeness is God’s goal for His children. And since Christ suffered for us, Christ-likeness includes suffering. (Philippians 2:5-11)
Therefore, when God allows suffering in our lives, He’s making us more like Jesus! He’s making us into a better person! One who more closely resembles Christ.
There is hope in our suffering, because we know that it is not in vain. God will redeem our suffering, making it be for our good in the end. And what better good could He work than to make us more Christ-like…more loving, understanding, giving, forgiving, faithful, kind, and true?
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Do you meet the condition of this promise? In the midst of your suffering, are you willing to say like David in Psalm 18:1, “I will love you, Lord.”?
Will you still love God even while He allows your suffering?
Then rest in hope that God will not waste your pain. But will instead, use it for your good. And ultimately use it to make you more like your Saviour!
3) God is giving us a new way to serve Him!
Suffering is given to us.
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Philippians 1:29
It is given to us. Suffering, then, is an opportunity. Something else to do well for God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
There is hope in our suffering when we choose to see it as an opportunity to offer our brokenness as a sacrifice to our God. And to allow Him to use that brokenness in our lives and the lives of others around us.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Psalm 51:17
Suffering itself is a calling of sorts.
A calling is just another way of saying what God has shown as His will for us to do—a way for us to serve Him.
We can suffer well, or not.
We suffer well when we choose to see suffering as an opportunity to shine Christ’s light through continued hope and faith, and to see our suffering as an open door for sharing the gospel.
I’ve heard of people—maybe you’re one of them—sharing Christ while they are patients in the hospital and of others giving tracts in waiting rooms at doctors’ offices. Places they would not have gone, had not God “given” them that “opportunity.”
I do know how hard it is to view suffering as an opportunity. But it does help all involved when we do.
A fellow teacher of mine several years ago was diagnosed with cancer. She finished out the school year and was such an inspiration of faith and hope. As I daily watched her faith and her smiling face and positive outlook, I learned how to live well, if I ever face that kind of suffering. I pray that I would follow her example and live, and die, well, my faith stronger each day, like she did.
How we suffer matters. And not only for ourselves, but also for others. (2 Corinthians 1:6)
We can choose to see suffering as an opportunity to let the world see Jesus and His strength through us, or we can let Satan kill our faith, steal our joy, and destroy our peace. And worse, possibly hinder the faith of others, as well.
I’d much rather turn to Jesus and have Him as my very present help in trouble than to let the devil heap his discouragement on top of my trouble! (Psalms 46:1)
4) God may be preparing us for a particular ministry.
Sometimes God allows suffering in order to prepare us to be used in a way we would not have thought about otherwise. For example, God led me into women’s ministry through the things He taught me during a hard time in my marriage.
Is there something God has helped you through? Is there a way you can reach out to others who are going through what you have? Maybe God will use you to work in a ministry that helps others through what you’ve been through.
What a wonderful way for God to redeem our sufferings for His glory!
5) Healing will come!
There is hope in our suffering when we truly believe that sooner or later our brokenness will be made whole again!
He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. Psalms 147:3
Let’s keep fighting off the temptation to despair in our suffering…because it won’t last long.
And even if it lasts our lifetime, that is but a short time compared to eternity. When this life is done, we will enter our eternal home with Jesus in heaven!
And all suffering will finally be ended!
That sure hope is our strength to keep fighting off the devil’s attempts to defeat, discourage, and destroy us and our faith in the God who loves us more than we can even imagine.
A preacher I heard once said that one of his favorite phrases in the Bible was, “and it came to pass.” Not to stay.
Just hold on and praise God that one day soon our sufferings will end, either in this life or the next!
None of us are suffering in exactly the same ways, because God knows what we each need and how He wants to use each of us to shine His light.
The world around us needs to see our faith, our hope. Now, in these last days, more than ever.
So, instead of praying and wishing to be free of our suffering, let us rather embrace it and trust our Saviour’s love and plans for us. Just think, if Jesus’ disciples had been spared their suffering and grief, then we’d not have hope today! For that would have meant that Christ had not died!
We have a choice to make. We can choose to see whatever our suffering is right now as an opportunity, like Esther did, and rise to the occasion—”for such a time as this.” And decide to be strong women of faith who comfort, help, and encourage those around us—even while we suffer.
Well, there is no “Or.”
For we are daughters of the King and must fight with our shield of faith held high and the sword of the Spirit drawn for battle! Ready to share the reason of our hope…the Lord Jesus Christ…who died for us that those who believe on Him can live this life with a sure hope of help here and of eternal life to come!
Drawing nigh to Him,
Let’s talk about it.
There are so many reasons for hope in our suffering for us who know Jesus as Saviour. So many verses I could have shared. I’ve only listed a few. What are some others?
Are you going through a hard time right now? How can we pray for you? Tell us in the Comments below.