We have all experienced suffering. Whether it’s happened to you because of decisions you made or if it is due to things that have happened to you outside of your control, we’ve all been there. In fact, you may be dealing with a difficult time right now and might be wondering where God is in all of it.
The reality is, Jesus can impact suffering in ways that nothing else and no one else can. Here are two of those ways.
JESUS GIVES US MEANING IN SUFFERING
Jesus shows us that we still matter in suffering. Tim Keller in his book Walking with God through Pain and Suffering writes
“Christianity teaches that, contra fatalism, suffering is overwhelming; contra Buddhism, suffering is real; contra karma, suffering is often unfair; but contra secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.”
Suffering is hard, and without Christ, suffering can and often does destroy people. Here’s why:
Suffering is hard enough as it is, that is why we call it suffering. It feels bad, we wish it would end, and when we are suffering it affects us 24/7. On top of that, without God, we are told that this life is all there is and that you better make it count and be as happy as you can be.
Of course, when you are suffering or are depressed, you aren’t happy and life isn’t going well. So you then feel even worse that not only are you suffering but that your life is being wasted and becoming meaningless. This worldview only compounds your grief.
1 Peter 5:7 says [Cast] all your cares on him, because he cares for you.” In other words, even in your suffering God himself still cares for you. It may seem like others don’t, but God himself does. That’s incredible.
So in your suffering, if God himself cares for you, then you still have meaning. You are cared for and deeply loved by the God of the universe. You still matter. And there is nothing else in the world that can give you meaning like this, especially in your suffering.
JESUS GIVES YOUR SUFFERING MEANING
Jesus shows us that our suffering matters. Not only does Jesus give us meaning in suffering, but he also gives our suffering meaning as well.
Here is what is so great, God doesn’t waste our suffering! In fact, it is because of what you are going through now that will allow you to impact people in ways you otherwise could not have. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4,
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
I have experienced this first hand. My life was forever changed when I was 19 years old and I lost my dad to a suicide. It was painful. It lead to a lot of questions, a lot of hurt, and depression. I was suffering.
And yet, because I went through what I went through, I have now been able to speak into the lives of those who have have been affected by the suicide of a loved one and also those going through a number of other tragedies. I can do that in a way I never would have been able to if I had not experienced what I had.
Now to be perfectly honest, I would trade my ability to sympathize and comfort those in deep pain any day to have my father back. But I can’t do that, and so I am thankful that God can still use something as terrible as suicide for his glory and my good.
Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we can know that he gives us and our suffering meaning. And one day, everything sad will come untrue. Tim Keller writes,
“Embracing the Christian doctrines on the incarnation of the cross brings profound consolation in the face of suffering. The doctrine of the resurrection can instill us with a powerful hope. It promises that we will get this life we most longed for, but it will be an infinitely more glorious world than if there had never been the need for bravery, endurance, sacrifice, or salvation.”
In Jesus we have a living hope that cannot be taken away. And the invitation for us is simply to come, follow, and find rest in him.