The Silver Lining of Suffering

“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."

Luke 21:28


I read an interesting quote this morning that said, “A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears.” If that quote is true then there are lots of people around the world today who are suffering. If that includes you rest assured you are not alone. Like you, I too am looking for the silver lining of the COVID-19 virus. Maybe the greatest silver lining we’ve seen so far since the outbreak began is the number of people who are turning to the Bible looking for answers and finding hope. The Bible has much to say about suffering regardless of its cause.

Suffering comes in many shapes and forms, be it sickness, disease, death, or a financial crisis due to a lost job or a down turn in the economy. You name it, we can suffer from it. Suffering is simply part of the human existence which means at some point in the course of our lives we will experience suffering in some way, shape or form. The question that begs to be asked today then is why does God allow suffering? What could His purpose possibly be? A few things come to mind.

Suffering helps us to become kinder and more compassionate people. Politics in America has become ugly in recent years and as a country we have proven to be more divided than at any other point in our nations history. And yet, when the Coronavirus began to spread across our country it caused many in government to forget about partisan politics for a moment and instead to focus on the greater good. People who almost daily say the most vile things about one another have joined hands in seeking to find solutions to the pressing problems caused by the virus. Though people are frighted they are becoming more kind and compassionate with family and friends and complete strangers. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 puts it like this, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

Have you ever considered that God often times allows suffering to get our attention so we can witness for ourselves the glory of God. Our trials and suffering set the scene for God to do the miraculous, and in doing so bringing glory and honor and praise to Jesus Christ. One such story stands out in John 9:1-3, “Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” Imagine the conversations going around after this event. A man who was born blind, with no eyes is made to see by Jesus taking dirt, spitting on it and rolling it into eyes. Talk about God being glorified through suffering.

To me, the most amazing thing about suffering is how your suffering and mine can help others so they don’t have to. I love the expression, “God never wastes a hurt” and its true. How many cures for diseases have come about because of one person who suffered. We are on the verge of finding an antidote for the coronavirus from the antibodies of those who contracted the coronavirus (and suffered) and are now well. Isn’t that what Jesus did for all of humanity when He took our place on the Cross and died in our place. Though sin entered the world through Adam and spread to all men, righteous came to all men by the suffering of Jesus Christ, resulting in justification of life to all who receive Him. Thats what we learn as we read Romans 5:17-18, “For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.”  

Yes, loved one, there is a silver lining in suffering. It’s found not just where you look but who you look too. When Corrie Ten Boom said, “when I look around I get confused, when I look down I get depressed, but when I look up my hearts at rest” she wasn’t thinking in terms of just a direction that simply looking up will make all your problems suddenly disappear. No, what this amazing woman of faith was saying is that when life gets confusing and we don’t know what to do or where to turn and when the trials of life become so overwhelming we get depressed, we shouldn’t hang our heads like we are hopeless. On the contrary, Corrie was reminding us to look up, to look to the God of heaven who loves us and cares for us. To focus our gaze heavenward  on the God who is interested in the affairs of our lives and who takes pleasure in turning our mourning into dancing! Don’t ever forget, loved one, where there is hurt there is hope!

 
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, …lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13


Michael Osthimer

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