Our media is saturated with conflict and sorrow. We’re either disagreeing about political issues, or we are mourning reports of death and destruction near our homes and on the other side of the world. In preparation for this post, I scoured all of my regular news outlets searching for something universally positive that I, that we, could hold onto. Sadly, the headlining news was rife of conflict, sorrow, and loss. To me, it seems like there’s so much more pain in the world now, but it only takes a moment in the Word to see that suffering is a very old concept.
Why do we hurt? Why do they hurt? What’s the point?
The people we admire from the Word, those who championed for God and for Christ, were persecuted. They were beaten, cast out, and even killed for their faith. God used them to speak to us. He trusted them, and they often gave every bit of their lives to Him. Their God-inspired lives and stories are the ones we learn from and model after, and they were often far from painless and pretty. So, why did God choose them? Why wouldn’t he stick to the happy endings and beautiful lives to represent and encourage others in pursuit of Him? Because they were an example of what the reality of Christian life could be.
Paul “boasted” about his suffering in 2 Corinthians
Verses 23-28 read as follows:
“I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”
Though Paul was proving an entirely different point, his words show the reality of His walk with God. He and others were the ones that were mentally and physically affronted. They were the ones that often found themselves speaking to masses that held deaf ears. God didn’t sugar coat their experiences for us. God didn’t promise a pretty life, but He guaranteed one that’s real and worth it. Why else would we fight but for something worth dying for? How better to understand the importance, the impact, and the draw of Christianity but to see these timeless pioneers of the faith laying everything down in His name? They fought for Him. They sometimes even died for Him. How absolutely worthy He must be.
So, yes, we suffer. We feel pain, and we feel loss. We are not free from the trials of humanity, but our suffering is not in vain. Our lives are a testament. Our faith and resilience in loss is a billboard to a brighter destination in Christ. And, as we find faith in our sorrow, we find the strength to share this comfort. We find that we can travel to the corners of the world, and give others a reason to hang on, to fight. We find that we are all just children following in the footsteps of our predecessors; giving our lives for a faith worth every breath and the chance to share that purpose with the world.
Before I go, I want to leave a friendly reminder for all of my powerful women of God. Our God is forever the same. He has stood at the head of all there was, is, and ever will be since the beginning of time. He is in control. He is our ultimate guide and our eternal safe haven. No matter what we see around us, we are never alone. God has never stopped working in our lives or in the precious lives of every hurting person on earth. Please always remember that.
Featured image by Caroline Elizabeth Photography