I was asked by the Pastor of Theological Development@1.21 Church to give some of my thoughts on the biblical theology of suffering. Below is a snippet.
The “good news” (gospel) is that we have a high priest who has suffered far worse than we have. Because of his resurrection we can have confidence that he is alive and will sympathize with us during these times. We also see in the gospel how God uses suffering for his glory and our benefit. Christ suffered, and with joy, he endured death on the cross. What seemed like a terrible tragedy turned out to be the greatest victory the world has ever seen. Through Christ’s sufferings and resurrection we can now be reconciled to God because he has taken our sin, paid our penalty and has given the believer his righteousness.
God ordained the sufferings of Christ and I think we would be wrong to think that we are too good of a people that God shouldn’t allow us to suffer. Another observation is that suffering does not just come from Satan; but is ordained by God. Remember that it was God who gave permission for Job to be tortured the way that he was. Christ prays in the garden, “if possible take this cup from me…is there any other way? None-the-less; your will be done.” It was Gods will for Christ to suffer. Only pride can birth the thought that we should not suffer as he did.
We cannot forget Romans 5 which says “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” This again shows that sufferings are a vital part of our sanctification. The apostles model rejoicing in their sufferings in Acts 5:41. Romans 8 states that we must suffer with Him (Christ) if we expect to be glorified with Him. Paul tells Timothy to share in suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. John writes in Revelation “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” We are continually reminded that our temporal sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us – Romans 8:18