suffering and hope

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:20)

Those who teach a Christianity that downplays suffering to near-absence in the believer’s life is not proclaiming truth. Paul teaches that “creation groans,” that believers “groan inwardly” with it, and that this turmoil is intended to draw many to God’s kingdom.

The world is restless, oppressed by sin and its deathly consequences. No matter how the ungodly deny it, a sense of wrongness pervades the earth. Something is amiss. And God’s children sense and suffer this along with the world. But our suffering, thankfully, is not without hope. In fact, it is our hope in Christ which we are called to be witnesses of to a groaning world.

Contrary to many who preach a bed-of-roses Christianity, the presence of suffering in your life is not exclusively a result of your disobedience or demonic oppression. Suffering in a believer’s life is a given. More often than not, it is a God-ordained necessity, even a gift—to refine a believer’s faith, to strengthen his hope, to rid his heart of lesser loves. All this, not for the believer’s sake, but for God’s glory.  Instead of asking, “Why am I suffering?” maybe we should ask, “How am I suffering?” and “To what end am I suffering?”

Suffering ought not to bring us to despair, but to hope—on our knees. When in suffering we pray, God’s Spirit ministers to us. When suffering’s intensity renders praying with words impossible or inadequate, God’s Spirit translates our moans and groans so that they rise to the Father as crystal-clear prayers that touch His heart.

Thank you, Father, for my suffering. May I honor You in my suffering.

_______
This devotional note was written for Scripture Union’s 2011 Quiet Time Guide,
Light to My Path Each Day. Published in the Philippines by OMF Literature, Inc.

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