For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
No Growth Without Resistance
I remember reading about many godly saints who suffered so much yet still showed the world how great God was by enduring their suffering so well. Peter writes that whoever it is that suffers according to God’s will should commit their souls to Him (1 Pet. 4:19). Trials that can be used to strengthen some can knock down others. A fact of nature is that trees grow at their most rapid rate during times of strong winds. Their resistance to the wind makes them stronger and more able to endure when the really severe windstorms hit, so the winds actually help strengthen the trees. If there was no wind and it was always calm, the trees would die due to a lack of stimulated growth in resisting the wind. Without wind, there would be no pollination and many types of trees would become extinct.
God Is Greater Than Our Suffering
Suffering is not always bad. I know that sounds surprising to say, but our suffering produces perseverance and endurance, like with the trees I mentioned in the previous paragraph (Rom. 5:3). The very fact that Jesus suffered makes Him more sympathetic to our own suffering (Heb. 2:18). That’s why He is the perfect High Priest for us (Heb. 2:17). This is partly how we can share in the divine nature of Christ (2 Pet. 1:4). Christ was completely familiar with suffering and sorrows (Isaiah 53:3), but His suffering was God’s way to bring many sons and daughters into glory (Heb. 2:10). If Christ hadn’t suffered, we’d have to suffer for all eternity. Contrary to the way we normally think, we should have to suffer for His sake (Phil. 1:29).
When the Black Plague hit much of Europe in the 1300s, there was something different about the way Christians dealt with death than the non-believers did. They were more joyous at the hundreds of thousands of funerals that took place. Those who were not Christian saw how the believers came to the aid of those who were sick with what is sometimes called the Black Death. They witnessed how Christians died and how unbelievers died, one with hope and the other without hope; by this, they were drawn to faith in Christ. At that time life was exceedingly hard and hopeless for those who didn’t have faith in God. The way in which the thousands of saints died in peace, having hope in God, they showed the world how great their God is. How about you when you suffer? Can you still show the world how great your God is by suffering well, knowing that in the age to come, nothing will be able to be compared with the glory that’s coming (Rom. 8:18)?
A Closing Prayer
Great Father, please help me to learn how to suffer well and give other Christians who suffer the hope that is found only in You, the encouragement they need. Please help me to learn to use my sufferings well to show the world just how great You are, God, and why my hope is not in this present world but in the world to come when Your Great Son returns. In His name I pray.
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