Go Read Philippians 1:29 and 1 Peter 4:1-2, 12-19.
Suffering is a megaphone for what matters most in our lives. If the most important thing in your life is you and your safety and your comfort and the safety and comfort of those around you, then when you suffer, “WHERE’S MY COMFORT?” will come blaring through the loud speaker. If you are most concerned with your own well-being, then you will complain and shake your fist at God for taking away what is most important to you. Everyone who knows you will hear it. They will hear it in your attitude and they will hear it in your words. They will not say anything because you are suffering. They will not say anything because as good polite Christians we don’t know what to do when someone’s suffering reveals their own selfishness. But despite their silence, you will be tangibly discouraging their faith and revealing that your life is more about your own glory than anything else. Suffering doesn’t leave room for whispers or implications – It magnifies the theme of your life.
On the other hand, if the most important thing in your life is Christ’s glory, His kingdom – just Jesus himself -- then His name is what will be magnified through your suffering.
<> Think about the last time you suffered in any way. What came out of the megaphone?
I think we need to get a better grasp on what suffering is. It’s easy to think of suffering in terms of cancer, terminal diseases or major tragedies in our lives. It’s easy to think of it because it’s the most extreme example. But it doesn’t necessarily change all that much about our daily lives. The truth is there are many different scales of suffering – from tiniest inconveniences to life altering tragedies. The amplification on the megaphone is directly tied to the gravity of the suffering experienced. Here’s the problem: if we think that someday when we get the diagnosis that we have a horrible terminal disease, THEN we’ll all of a sudden start praising Jesus’ name for suffering when we aren’t practicing at all now, we’re full of it. Everyday we experience thousands of minor inconveniences that give us a chance to practice for when real suffering strikes. We are daily confronted with opportunities to scream out “MY LIFE IS ABOUT ME” or “MY LIFE IS ABOUT JESUS – HIS FAME.”
<> What are your regular everyday annoyances in life?
<> How do you respond?
<> If we polled your co-workers, (your classmates) what would they say your life is about based on how you handle practical everyday junk?
The Grace of Suffering
Pure and simple, it has been granted for us to suffer because suffering is good for us. It teaches and reminds us that life is not all about us which makes us glorify Jesus. It puts us on our knees crying out for help, which drives our intimacy with Jesus. It puts us in places where Jesus alone can relate to our suffering and be there to comfort us. Are you noticing a theme? Suffering helps you know Jesus more, and if that’s the goal of your life, then suffering is a gift.
<> Have you ever seen suffering grow your intimacy with Christ?
<> What does your response to suffering reveal about your desire to know Jesus?
<> What would have to chance for you to accept suffering as grace in your life?