Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Thought on Suffering

I want to pull together for you some thoughts I had as I went through my quiet time this morning. As I was reading through the book of Hebrews, I was struck afresh by this verse, “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8). I confess to you that this verse always shocks me, and for that I am glad. Indeed, this section is so rich with beauty for me that I believe I can taste it. Consider this as well, “In the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear” (5:7). Here, we have Christ suffering, crying, and learning obedience.

This reading sent my mind on a tangent of the way that God deals with men, and if the Son of God was not exempted from this process, how shall I then escape it? I will not. I must suffer to learn obedience. Look at these words to Peter, “Simon! Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31). The Lord allowed Satan to sift Peter like wheat so that the chaff might blow away forever and obedience and faith might be learned. He was sifted that he might learn the sorrow of betrayal and the folly of pride.

Do you see the pattern of the men and women of the Bible being sifted and tested for the purpose of godliness? Consider these examples to encourage your heart:

Remember Hannah, weeping at her barrenness before the Lord of Hosts (1 Samuel 1:9-18).

Remember Abraham, contending with God over the lack of an heir that was promised (Genesis 15).

Remember David, hiding in the wilderness with vagabonds, though he had been anointed King and heir over all Israel (1 Samuel 22).

Remember Paul’s chains (Colossians 4:18).

The list could continue for as many godly characters as you could think of. Even if their trials, their ordained trials, are not listed in Scripture you can be certain that they are there. The balm for our souls comes with pain, for being weaned from this world is rarely a pleasant process. As the Word teaches us, “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the hearts” (Proverbs 17:3). Being in the heated crucible of God’s purifying fire is a glorious, and often painful place to be.

But my soul takes comfort in this verse:

“We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:14).

The wonder of this verse is that Jesus’ total triumph over sin did not make Him proud, it made Him sympathetic. He remembers the bite of the flesh and the lure of sin. He knows the full weight of temptation as no other man ever has or will. He resisted at all points. He succeeded in saying no where all others failed. So He can now sympathize with our weakness.

I believe that I am being sifted even now, as probably are many of you. I am not who I wish to be, and I know that in order to become that, God must refine me. I am willing to be pruned under the sympathetic hand of the Master. I know that He cuts for my good and for His glory. I know that on the other side of suffering lies glory unspeakable.

I had all these thoughts this morning because I took time to read the Word. Isn’t Scriptural meditation wonderful? If nothing else, I hope that this little lesson will spur you to spend some time in thought over the Word of God today. This lesson is not unique, such thoughts are mine daily as I draw from the well of God's Word, and they can be yours as well.


Daniel said...

The Lord encouraged me with that Brad - Thanks for sharing it.

Even So... said...

Christ suffered to the full extent.

Think about this...

He could have shaved his beard so that they could not pluck it...

He could have made thorns round so they would not sink in...

He might have still died, but He could have lessened the pain of it.

He knew that His death was what this was all about, but He didn't lessen any of the sufferings leading up to the penultimate event itself.

"It was good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes" (Psalm 119:71).