“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” – Romans 8″18
We live in a fallen world. A world contaminated with sin and suffering. There are so many ways for us to suffer, emotionally, mentally, and physically. One can experience heartbreak at the loss of a loved one. One can suffer through the pains of chemotherapy. One may suffer anxiety as the bills keep adding and adding up.
How do we cope with suffering in this life? How do we dull the pain? There are many scriptural exhortations but today I would like to present only three that you may not have ever considered. They may sound too dark to really think about. Yet whenever I feel pain and think about these three things I always walk away more grateful than before. They are as follows:
- The pains of hell.
- The sufferings of Christ.
- The persecution of martyrs.
Jonathon Edwards was the first to inspire me toward this practice. His tenth resolution is, “when I feel pain, [I will] think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.” When we consider our suffering in light of the suffering of hell it puts our pain into perspective.
Focus on your pain and imagine there was no escape. Imagine it lasting forever and ever. Imagine that no matter what you did, no medicine you could take or no song you could sing could ever alleviate it. When you consider this you can properly picture the words that Jesus spoke in light of the judgment for anger:
“ Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny” (Matthew 5:26)
Our pain can be a great mentor. It can give us a small glimpse into the righteous wrath of God poured out on sinners. The only reason we even feel pain is because we have sinned against an eternally holy God. This has humbled me when I want to grumble about my sufferings. It has shown me that no matter what I am feeling now, I deserve to suffer worse. This leads me to the next meditation, the sufferings of Christ.
Are you suffering the pain of loss? Are you enduring the pain of rejection? Does a physical illness torment you every day? Does sin harass you at every turn? Fear not if these truly describe you. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Christ can relate to us in our sufferings. He walked among us as a man. He was born poor and of low estate. He was homeless and had to trust God to provide every day for him. He was mocked, ridiculed, beaten, and crucified. Yet even more so, on the cross, He endured the full wrath of God on that cross.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
All that time you spent meditating on, Christ endure that pain on the cross. He endured separation from His Father. He was forsaken by God and hung there on that cross to be damned by God in the place of sinners. Imagine His pain. That the One who created the whole world and always knew the love of the Father was rejected by His Father. He endured all this to glorify His great name and to display His great love for His people.
Are you suffering today? Take your suffering and let them drive you to the suffering of Christ. Let your rejection point you to the Christ who was rejected by men and by God in the place of sinners. Let your physical pain take you to the beating Christ endured. Let your temptations remind you of how Christ was tempted and was victorious. For we must remember that Christ is a victorious King and although he suffered tremendously He rose from the dead and reigns over all. So too our present suffering is but temporary because Christ has redeemed all who believe in Him. We will not have to endure the eternal pains of hell but will be welcomed by God into heaven with Him forever. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen” (2 Cor 4:17-18a)
Lastly, it is good to meditate on our brothers and sisters in Christ that are currently being persecuted for their faith in Christ. Hebrews 13:3 commands us, “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” It is good to remember that whatever you are suffering you are not alone. There are people across the world suffering the same exact things you are dealing with for the glory of Christ.
Considering the persecuted church in light of my own pain has produced greater compassion and zeal in my own heart. It has pushed me to endure hardships knowing that there are faithful men and woman who stand in the gap for the sake of Christ. It helps me sift through what is real suffering and what is truly just a complaint in my life. It has shown me what is a real pain and what is just discontentment. It has humbled me and elevated my mind above my own situation and has stirred prayers for others.
These three things can comfort you greatly in times of suffering. They may lift your heart. They may give you clarity in the midst of confusion. Gratitude in the midst of feeling abandoned. God will never leave us nor forsake us in our pains, He is always there watching us and conforming us to the image of Christ. Be encouraged today.
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