A Theology of Suffering

We can’t escape suffering. The Bible is filled with men and women who suffered. The cross reminds us that our God is a suffering God. All of this makes me wonder why we are so shocked when it comes our way?

Most of us live a pretty comfy American life. We want (understandably so) to do whatever it takes to remove any and all pain out of our lives. Which is why these words from Paul should blow our mind…

“that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10

Paul is, get ready for it, praying that he might be able to suffer.

Before you even try, it’s not going to help you if you look up the verse in Greek or use a different translation.

Paul has a solid theology of suffering that most of us simply do not have. Paul did not want to suffer merely for the sake of experiencing pain and hardship.  Paul understood that suffering was not meaningless. It was not intended to destroy him. No, Paul knew that as he suffered it would cause him to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. This was Paul’s greatest desire; to know and become more like his Savior.

The prosperity gospel is a reprehensible false teaching. We may mock the prosperity gospel but are we sure there aren’t some traces of it in our hearts and minds?

Have you said or thought these words before?

If God loved me then he would not…

I have been pretty good so why did God…

If this is how God treats me then…

I’ve had these thoughts run through my head before and there is a good chance I have even muttered a few of these phrases while going through a difficult season of life. But we need to face the truth. Difficult times have the power to reveal what we truly believe about God. Trials also reveal what we love, what we treasure. I must confess that all too often I treasure my health, life, reputation, and comfort more than I do the pursuit of becoming like Christ.

My prayer for myself, my family, my brothers and sisters at New Life church is that instead of running from the hard times, which are sure to come, that we will allow God to use them to liberate us from our besetting sins and transform us into the image of Christ.

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