Each and every day we are reminded that we live in a world filled with suffering. All it takes is a quick glance at the headlines or a few minutes listening to the news and we are hit with reality. No wonder the Bible refers to the time we are living in as “this present evil age.”
This morning I was asked by a fried, “How can we move forward day by day with hope in a world filled with so much suffering?”
When the writer of the book of Hebrews spoke about the suffering of Christ Jesus, he said, “For the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross.”
Christ endured the mocking, lies, false accusation, beatings, spit, and nails because there was something joyous in store for Him. He knew that His suffering would ultimately take Him to a place of joy. What about you and me? As we are confronted with suffering and pain what are we to hold on to? I’ve heard people teach that life in these mortal bodies will get easier if we have enough faith. Is that true? Are we promised that life in these mortal and corruptible bodies is going to become more easy? Are we to live with the hope that things will improve in this current age? Or do we need to look beyond our circumstances into the future past the here and now?
What about the pain and suffering that is simply part of being human and wearing a physical body? What about the pain and suffering that simply comes to each of us as a result of the aging process? Are we like a fine wine? Are we getting better with age? Next time you take a look in the mirror and notice new lines on your face consider whether or not things on the inside are aging along with the outside. Do you think that as time passes you and I are going to begin to experience more creakiness in our bones along with aches and pains as our bodies wear out and eventually die? Is this going to be changed in this current age or are these bodies we are wearing going to continue to whither away?
As the Apostle Paul wrote about the suffering we each face in these mortal bodies, he said, “We do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. Our light affliction which is but for a moment is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
Like Christ who endured His suffering by looking forward to a time of joy, Paul seems to be saying that you and I must do the same. We must realize that the suffering of this age is temporary. In light of eternity is is but for a moment and it is working something in us that will ultimately be directly connected with the glory of eternity. Paul seems to be implying that the suffering in this life is necessary in order for us to fully appreciate the greatness of what is ultimately in store for you and me. Could he also be saying that the more suffering we experience the greater our rewards will be? Did Christ teaching anything along those lines? Search it out.
The Apostle Paul experienced numurous beatings, harassment, persecution, shipwrecks, being stoned and left for dead, as well as imprisonment. Understanding this about Paul, it is surprising that he refers to suffering as “light affliction.” What a perspective! I wonder how many of us would refer to the diffuculties we face in this age as “light.”
It is beyond our comprehension to fully understand how our suffering “is working for us a far more exceeding weight of glory.” However, we can find comfort knowing that the suffering of this age is not all there is. This age will come to an end. We can encourage one another to look ahead with hope to that day when we meet our Savior face to face. We can point one another forward to that moment in time when Chrst Jesus experience the joy of receiving all that He purchased with His blood and we have the joy of receiving new bodies described by Paul as immortal and incorruptible.
At the end of all the ages we will finally be able to look back with full understanding, which is something we currently don’t have. We will then be able to see how God truly has been working all things together for the good, including our times of suffering.
I remind myself of this every day as I see my dad’s body slowly withering away. I remind myself of this when I see dad doing his breathing treatments twice each day and as I see him forcing himself to eat. His outward man is perishing. But according to the Apostle Paul the pain, suffering, and affliction he is experiencing is working a far more exceeding weight of glory. I have to believe that!