Suffering is part of the deal no matter what. If we live a life of all out sin we will suffer the consequences. If we live a life of Godliness we are guaranteed suffering for righteousness’ sake. It seems there is just no way out of it so we have a decision to make. Are we going to live for right-now or are we going with this whole faith thing and trust for rest and reward later?
In the life of a sinner we suffer or groan because we can’t seem to get our way or maybe we just can’t get away with it. As a believer, one who is walking by faith, we groan or suffer for Christ’s sake. A sinner is one who is consumed with their own life and progress whereas a believer is increasingly concerned for the well being of others. Both of these are lives full of pain and anguish but for entirely different reasons.
Peter tells us in his first Epistle “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.” So we discover the trial is for testing and when we pass the test, by sharing in the sufferings of Christ, the glory will manifest. So, let the rejoicing begin. Apparently the path to glory is paved with suffering.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8 when the pain or suffering causes us to not even be able to form words “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Have you ever been in such a state of distress you couldn’t even form words to describe it? Well, the Spirit of God himself prays through us in those instances when we don’t even know how to pray. Have we got an unbelievably marvelous God or what?
In John 16 Jesus promised us “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” At least Jesus never kept the truth from us; he never hid the part about suffering. Sometimes just knowing we aren’t the only ones going through something tough helps.
There is an interesting verse about the gates of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:21a “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl.” My understanding is that a pearl is created when a foreign substance slips into the oyster between its shells, which irritate it. The oyster’s natural reaction is to cover up that irritant to protect itself. The irritant is covered with layers of what is called nacre and that is how the pearl is formed. Can you imagine the amount of irritation it took to create a pearl big enough to make a gate to a city? It isn’t just one gate though there are twelve; that is a whole lot of irritation! The Apostle Paul would amen this he said, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
It seems we all have our share of suffering and tribulation to go through. Most of the time we tend to have to suffer for quite a while as a sinner before we come to understand our need of Jesus. We can then exchange suffering the consequences for sharing in the sufferings of Christ. What are you groaning for?
Written by Louie