We know a few things about suffering in the world. We know we all suffer. We don’t know why. The best book in the Bible to go find out why there is suffering, Job, doesn’t say. We are left with an existence we know not why it is there.
For being human we suffer; it’s practically a reminder of the Fall–while God does forgive our sin he sometimes its consequence take its course. We can also all agree waiting for his blessings to come through and end the pain just really, really sucks. But there’s something very special about suffering in Sorge’s eyes: the perfect time to pray is when you are in difficult times. When [Jesus] was hurting, he sought out the place of prayer. His time in Gethsemane is a great example of this, of which it was recorded, “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly” (Luke 22:44). Hey, we all wanna be like Jesus. Why not start there?
Now, there are a lot of characters in Scripture other than Job that deal with the suffering, lie Abraham and his almost child sacrifice, Jacob’s work for Rachel, David escaping Saul (and then escaping his son, Absalom), and Jeremiah’s entire prophetship. Interconnected with their suffering, fortunately, is their endurance.
Hardship can be embraced with joy, in my opinion, only when we understand God’s purposes in the pain. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3). The only way to be joyful in trials is through “knowing”–knowing God’s purposes in it. How do we learn God’s purposes in our sufferings? The secret of God in His word is what will reveal purpose to us.
Three covenants were made in the First Testament (Genesis 12, Exodus 19-24, 2 Samuel 7), where in exchange for man’s obedience to his commands, the Lord would bless them. The promises of those covenants: Abraham and his children will be a blessing to all the nations, the nation of Israel will be God’s representative to all the nations, and one of David’s son will extend God’s kingdom to include all the nations.
Compared to the First there is only one covenant made in the New Testament, hence the name “New Covenant.” (See Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.) In exchange for believing we need God to rescue for our sin, God will save us. To stretch that last clause a little longer you are guaranteed everlasting life, Jesus is always with you, and Jesus will come back to all the nations.
In the New Testament we read Jesus suffered, both before and on the cross. We also read all the apostles suffered the wrath of their Jewish and Roman rulers, and we with exception to John, they were all executed. Nevertheless they endured their suffering–they trusted Jesus would do what he promised.
On a personal level, I am writing this to you at a moment when I have not had easy sleep for the past couple weeks. I have been constantly on my feet doing something to kill time and give myself more in the future to kill as well. Christianese speaking, I have not had his peace or rest.
This past Friday night a friend of mine texted me to remind me of God’s promises she told me at our last Wesley service this summer:
Breathe in the goodness of God. Breathe out worries. Remember what you're in control of–what you let into your internal realm/ heart. My prayer for you is that you only let in peace and remember what's in the hands of God.
How could I possibly open up for Jesus’ peace when I didn’t trust the peace could do anything. So I told my friend to pray that the Lord’s peace would hit me like a brick wall–“knocks me up” to use my precise words. She replied, “For me peace is an understanding of my heart that God's got this.” And you know what? I slept pretty well last night.
My friend, are you scared? If you are I want you to try to pray for his peace to fall on you, ask God to remind you of the promises he has made. But if you don’t believe God will come through for you this time, then try to trust a friend who will pray on your behalf.
Sam Darby, Connect