Monday, July 6, 2009


We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.


It feels impossible to function with a broken heart. How do we endure suffering?

What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ?

Why does God allow suffering this side of Heaven?

What does it mean to be blessed by God?

Does being a Christian mean there's a "hedge-of-protection" around you?

Contrary to our Western views of life-in-Christ which at times could be characterized as a "prosperity gospel" which includes our mistaken notion of what it means to be "blessed," the scripture is very clear about Suffering being a natural by-product of being a disciple of Christ in this fallen world.

See the following scriptures throughout the New Testament regarding the suffering that will be a part of life-in-Christ on this earth:

Matthew 5:1-12; 10:22, 37-39; 16:21-25; 19:21, 29-30; 20:26-28; 23:11-12
Mark 8:33-38; 9:35; 10:21, 29-31
Luke 6:20-26; 9:23-25, 48; 14:33
John 8:31-36; 12:23-28; 15:18-20
Acts 9:16
Romans 5:3-6; 8:16-36; 12:14
1 Corinthians 4:9-13
2 Corinthians 1:3-9; 4:7-11, 16-18; 6:4-10; 12:7-10
Philippians 2:1-11; 3:7-11
Colossians 1:29-2:3
1 Thessalonians 3:2-4
2 Thessalonians 1:4-7
2 Timothy 1:9-12; 2:1-10, 3:10-12, 4:5-8, 16-18
Hebrews 2:9-10; 10:32-39; 11:25-27; 12:5-7, 10-13; 13:3, 12-14
James 1:2-7, 9, 12
1 Peter 1:10, 13; 2:20-24; 3:13-17; 4:1-2, 12-19; 5:6-11


For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. . . .

And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. We do not want you to be uninformed ... about the hardships we suffered .... We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.

But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

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 have received from God.

2 Corinthians 1:5, 7-9, 3-4 (NIV, highlights mine)

So, When Will the Suffering End?

Until God ushers in His new heavens and new earth, there will be suffering in this fallen world from sin, evil, sickness, and death in this world. God does not leave us alone to deal with this suffering all by ourselves. He knows we cannot deal with it all by ourselves - not in any healthy way, so He comes along beside us. HE MEETS US IN OUR PAIN.

But when Jesus returns, according to Jesus in Revelation, death and Hades will be thrown into the lake of fire. When God then lives with us, He will wipe away every tear from our eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for AT THAT TIME, the old order of things (that we are living now) will be passed away.

We suffer now, but thanks be to God, for those of us who accept His offer of love through His Son Jesus Christ, our suffering will end.

Meanwhile, now - while we grapple with suffering now, God will meet us in the depths of our pain if we allow Him in, and He will comfort us in all of our suffering.

(See Revelation 1:17-18; 20:14; 21:3-4 New International Version (NIV), The Holy Bible)


1 comment:

Emily said...

So, I used to think that Christians had a few benefits- not sure you would call it a hedge of protection since I didn't believe that we are kept away from bad things. I just thought that having a hope in Jesus and heaven would make grief easier. I thought that we would all feel the presence and peace of God during an awful times, since we have the holy spirit in us. (And there are many triumphant stories of Christians "being held" during tough times- Christian grief books and testimonies usually involve the person feeling peace or presence during an awful experience)

But that was not my experience, and the more I think about scripture and Jesus though that lens, the more I see how backwards we have it. Jesus on the cross didn't feel "held" by God. He felt abandoned. I think it would be a great gift to feel God's presence during a tough time, but it's not as much like Jesus as NOT feeling God's presence. And being made more like Jesus is a deep, mysterious blessing. And to be made like Jesus involves suffering and feeling abandoned by God. What a very un-Evangelical idea! I feel pressure from Christians to declare God victory in my loss, and shame that I don't or can't, but I am at peace with where I am, at the same time.

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