Suffering is a hard thing to navigate. We experience so much emotionally - grief, anger, loss, worry, anxiety, even numbness - and it takes its toll on us physically. Though we are quick to diagnose and provide comfort to the emotional and the physical through our efforts, we often forget the fact that we are a people created in God's very image, and He is greatly concerned with every aspect of our lives, in particular our suffering. In the midst of all of the recent ugliness and chaos of the world's current events, there truly is something beautiful happening. And it isn't found in our good works, or our ability to meet the needs of others. Nor is it found in our ability to suppress our emotions, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, and get to work on restoring our lives and the lives of those around us to what we perceive to be a certain degree of normal. No, the beauty on display is much more bold than that.
Our God suffers alongside of us. This is why our God is so very gracious to us, especially in hard moments such as these. Jesus has suffered the loss of all things: He gave up His home for a people who rebelled against Him; He gave selfless love for a people who lived so selfishly; He fed the hungry living bread and they complained for more; He gave the thirsty living water and they continued to run to stagnant mud holes; He pursued those far from God though they rejected the very nearness of God; He died a thief's death so that thieves who daily robbed God of His glory might be forgiven and clothed in the very thing they longed to steal - dignity, wealth, status, glory, identity, and an end to their suffering. Jesus has experienced everything that the tragedies this current world has thrown at us. He was crucified on a Friday, dead and buried on a Saturday, and though the weight of the world and the sin of man was thrown on Him, He still rose from the grave on a Sunday. He has suffered alongside us every step of the way and in every way imaginable. And He was strong enough to leave it in the grave. And He is strong enough to sustain us in His grace as the resurrected King over all creation today. He is so strong; His grace is strong enough to be sufficient for every hurting heart past, present, and future.
So how is suffering, well, beautiful? It becomes beautiful when those who, called by God's grace lean on the finished work of Jesus alone, realizing that they have been saved by grace through faith alone, are able to suffer alongside those in the throws of life's maladies. This is how The Church ought to partake in giving a lost and dying world the grace that Jesus has so kindly given us. We realized that we have been redeemed from so much distraction that, in the midst of destruction, we are able to carry this very message of God's grace to those who are hurting spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. We are simply pointing them to Jesus, for He is the only one who can graciously give us what we all truly need, Himself.
In the midst of all of this tragedy, here are a few questions to help navigate your heart into experiencing the grace of God as displayed in the gospel of Jesus in the midst of your suffering today. We are all suffering this side of heaven. So be encouraged. This is for you.
Read Ephesians 1 and Romans 8
- Who and where is God in the midst of this?
- What am I believing or unbelieving about God in light of Ephesians 1 and Romans 8?
- What am I believing or unbelieving about who God says I am in light this?
- Does Jesus feel near to you or far from you?
- Do you believe Jesus shapes you in suffering to make you more like Him? Why? Why Not?
- What does turning from a false identity shaped by suffering to one shaped by how Jesus views your identity for you?