Loving God. Loving our neighbor.

The Truth About Suffering

Joni Eareckson Tada

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.” Philippians 1:29

You will hear some believers say, “Although God can turn our trials into good, He doesn’t wish hard times on us, let alone send them. What He really wants is to bless us and to keep us from suffering. The whole reason Jesus went through so much, is so that we wouldn’t have to experience hurt, pain, disappointment or affliction.”

The Christians who hold this view are of sterling character — they study their Bibles, care about non-Christians, and show love for Christ in His kingdom everywhere they go. Nevertheless, the statement above is a hopeless mixture of truth and error, and it misses the core of why Jesus came.

First, despite Christ’s compassionate death for our sins, God’s plan – not Plan B or C or D, but His plan – calls for all Christians to suffer, sometimes intensely.

Today’s verse is only one of many which point to the fact that we are to pick up our cross daily and follow in the footsteps of His suffering.

1 Peter 2:21 & 4:12 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

To encourage us, God will write light moments into the script of our lives, but without fail, some scenes are going to break your heart, some of your favorite characters will die, and the movie may end earlier than you wish.

God’s plan is specific. He doesn’t say, “Into each life a little rain must fall,” then aim a hose in earth’s general direction to see who gets the wettest. He doesn’t wind up nature and then sit back to watch its sunny days and devastating hurricanes. God doesn’t let Satan prowl about totally unrestricted.

Do you feel as though God has taken a hands-off policy to certain hardships in your life? Right now, place them under His sovereign care. Commit to trust Him with His plan for your life.

Lord of wisdom, Lord of my life, I believe and trust You with every trial in my life.