No one escapes suffering. NO ONE! Suffering entered our world with the first sin. Choosing a sinful desire over God’s will resulted in suffering.
With sin came death. Death, by definition, is separation, ultimately the separation of God and man. We often focus on the separation of soul and body. Because of sin we suffer all kinds of separation.
Daily we face the ugliness of disease, divorce, dysfunctional families, and of course the possibilities of tragic accidents. There is just no way to truly prepare our hearts for the depth of suffering we may encounter. The journey from birth to death can be a long suffering.
There are countless ways to suffer. Meditate on the subject. Name the suffering that surrounds you.
Suffering is a choice. Consider the fall of Satan, “How you are fallen from heaven,O Lucifer, son of the morning! …For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; … I will be like the Most High.’” Isaiah 14:12-14 (NET BIBLE) Wanting control, no matter how much you want it, is never enough. Creator God alone has ultimate control.
Satan convinced Adam and Eve to ignore God’s authority over them. They chose selfish desire over obedience to God. Sin entered their hearts and their world. Their lives were marked with suffering.
From them we inherit a sinful nature. It has one major goal and that is to be in charge. From the moment we are born we begin to build our own little kingdom. The more control we are given the more we want. Unlike Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who live in perfect oneness of will, our wills constantly clash with God’s and with each other’s.
With every loss even the smallest, we suffer emotionally and we grieve. We feel anger and we grasp to regain control. We feel anxiety over the uncertainty of losing control. We groan under the burden of even imagined losses.
We don’t have the choice not to suffer. We do have a choice about suffering. We can choose to suffer the surrender of our will to His or suffer the consequences of choosing our will over His.
The Bible teaches us that surrendering our will to His, no matter how painful it might be, is a godly suffering that overcomes sin. “So, since Christ suffered in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same attitude, because the one who has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin, in that he spends the rest of his time on earth concerned about the will of God and not human desires.” 1 Peter 4:1-2 (NET BIBLE)
As parents, teachers, and disciple makers, let’s plunge headfirst into the grace and mercy that is ours in Christ Jesus. Let’s confess our failures and allow the Spirit of God to pick us up, clean us off and strengthen us to try again. Let’s live lives that shout out the message loud and clear that it is not in our control to be good, to live well, to gain success. Let’s persevere in suffering under the good hand of God’s will that we might grow less and less concerned for our human desires and more and more concerned about God’s will.
You might ask, “How long must we suffer?”
As long as it takes!
“To persevere is to endure a hard thing for a long time, leaving the length of the trial totally in God’s hands.” ~Joni Eareckson Tada