Who do you know someone that seems to suffer a lot? Better, which Christian do you know that seems to always have bad things happen… go wrong… or blow up in their face? I have wondered how much suffering is enough for one person to endure.
I knew a lady who endured more than I thought anyone should have to when it came to suffering. Her husband was an alcoholic who physically, verbally, and emotionally abused her… for decades. Once her 5 children grew up, three died tragically (1 was murdered, 1 committed suicide, 1 died in a car wreck). One of her surviving children had serious emotional and marital problems. One of her grandchildren committed suicide after their parent took their own life. She never had a lot of money or material things. She struggled to make ends meet financially. Eventually her husband died of cancer and… to my knowledge… didn’t trust Christ even though he told me exactly what would happen when he died without being saved.
Yet every Sunday she walked all five of her kids to church. She always had a smile, a good word to say, and a twinkle in her eye. Never once did she blame God… become bitter or angry… gripe or complain to anyone. And that was the way everyone who knew this precious lady described her. Now for some reflection…
Do you know someone who’s life experience is similar? Is yours like hers? Have you ever thought… “Okay God, enough is enough! I can’t take any more of this suffering?!!”
What I write next I admit is from the safety of a protected life… one that has not walked where some reading this may have walked. Still, I am trying to prepare myself for the potentiality of the day when it might happen. I want to try and put into perspective the suffering of life. And to do that I turn to The Scripture.
In 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 it is written, “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (ESV)
What if Jesus on the cross had said after three hours, “Okay… enough is enough! I’m coming down off this cross because I don’t think it’s necessary to stay here three more hours…” It was precisely because Jesus endured the suffering of the cross that salvation was accomplished. Not only that… it took his whole life… all his days on earth… for salvation to be completed. It couldn’t be reduced to 1 hour, 2, 3, 4, or 5 hours. Not even just a few years… but his whole life!
Think about this… To provide salvation, Jesus’ sufferings encompassed more than just the time He was on the cross. Jesus’ life was as much a part of purchasing our redemption as was His death! As Tim Keller says about Jesus, “He lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died.” It was keeping the Law perfectly (Which included suffering) that qualified Him to die the death that bought our redemption!
God is determined to bless His children and reward them eternally. That is why 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 is so important. When Paul wrote “slight…” he meant death. When Paul wrote “momentary…” he meant a lifetime. Yet Paul understood that is was that very kind and length of suffering that laid up treasures in heaven that couldn’t be obtained any other way. It is BECAUSE OF suffering that God increases rewards in heaven for His children!
God determined that Jesus’ whole life was required as a sacrifice for salvation to be accomplished. That included the full six hours on the cross… not just 2 or 4 hours. ALL of God’s plan had to be carried out. Otherwise there would be no salvation.
Likewise, if God determines that certain events we call tragic must occur in order to fulfill His will for our lives, who are we to say when enough has arrived? God’s wisdom is above ours. He knows what is best, we don’t. So I want whatever God’s will is… no matter what it is. Because that is the only way I will experience in heave all that God desires for me.
I believe the lady I referred to earlier in this post will have reward upon reward… blessing upon blessing given to her in glory BECAUSE OF the suffering she endured on earth. With that in mind, I have a whole new perspective on what takes place on earth (See 2 Corinthians 4:18).
I’m not there yet… but I want God to get me there. As someone said in a prayer to God, “What You will… When You will… As You will.”