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The Significance of Suffering

April 19, 2017

“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3

Let’s be honest, most of us would have to admit that we have a natural aversion to suffering. It may not bother us so much when “bad” people suffer, but we often get bent out of shape when suffering happens to “good” people—especially to us! We think that life owes us happiness, comfort, wealth, and a bit of prosperity. So when life deals us a blow, it’s no wonder we are prone to “grow weary and lose heart.”

Thankfully the writer of Hebrews helps put things into perspective by instructing us to “consider” the suffering of Jesus. When we fully grasp the terrible suffering that Jesus Christ—the only perfect person to walk this planet—endured on our behalf, it makes all the difference.

It’s significant to note that Jesus knew exactly what was coming. The night before His death, He told His disciples, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15, italics mine). I have often thought that it would have been a lot easier for Him to die a different way—something more sudden and less violent. Why was such deep agony required?

Jesus knew that suffering is part and parcel of Satan’s grip on our lives. Satan loves to bring it on, because he believes the more suffering he can throw at us, the more we will become defeated, discouraged, and disengaged from God. That’s his plan. And so the enemy threw the book at Jesus. Satan entered the heart of Judas, which meant that Jesus would suffer the bitter betrayal of a trusted friend. The kangaroo courts and crowds declared Jesus to be a criminal, beat and mocked Him, and inflicted terrible agony on Him. He stumbled up the cobblestone steps carrying His own cross, felt the stab of the sword in His side, the nails in His hands and feet, the thorns on His brow. He tasted suffering for us, and all the while Satan said, “Take that!”

What Satan did not know was that behind the scenes, God was working to use Jesus’ experience of suffering to turn the tables on Satan and defeat him through the suffering. The suffering of Jesus was a prelude to the ultimate defeat of sin, death, and hell.  Because He died on the cross and suffered for us, we too can be assured that in the depths of suffering there is the reality that victory will be God’s end game for us. So, when Satan heaps suffering on your life, you can be certain that God, who works all things together for good (Romans 8:28), is ready to turn the tables on Satan to bring victory out of defeat for you.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really thankful that Jesus was not only willing to die, but to defeat the stronghold of suffering in the process. He willingly walked into the arena of suffering in order to achieve complete, final victory over the ravaging effects of sin. And what’s more, He proved that there’s life beyond the grave.

So don’t miss the significance in your time of suffering! When Satan throws his best stuff at you, because of Jesus you can believe that God is both able and ready to turn the tables on him—and to bring you out with hands held high in victory!

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • How did God turn the tables on Satan in the lives of people like Joseph and Job? We have the advantage of knowing the final outcome in their lives, but take a few minutes to put yourself in their shoes. How do you think you would have dealt with that level of suffering?
  • Hebrews 11:32-38 tells of many who endured the crucible of suffering. Then the challenge is posed to those of us who follow after: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us . . . run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). How do you feel about picking up the baton and running into the arena of suffering?
  • What is the key to victory according to Hebrews 12:2-3? Take a moment to say thank you to Jesus for being willing to suffer for you.
  • Perhaps you or someone you know is going through the crucible of suffering right now. Ask for God’s help to run with perseverance knowing that He has promised a victorious outcome!