Friday, November 6, 2020

Suffering and Resurrection

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2)

Suffering is not supposed to be pleasant. If it were pleasant, it would not be suffering. If we were able to “stand above our circumstances” and ignore the pain and anguish, it would not be suffering. Jesus did not “stand above” the suffering to which God called Him. He drank the cup. How did He do it?

The Bible tells us that though suffering is horrible, it has a purpose, and the way we are to endure suffering is by means of hope, which in the Bible means a sure and certain confidence (Hebrews 11:1). We have hope in three things. First of all, discipline seems painful at the time. “Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11b). We can endure pain and suffering by fixing our eyes on the promise of a peaceful righteousness that will be our reward in this life.

Some suffering, however, ends in death, and that brings us to the second aspect of our hope, Jesus endured suffering “for the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). He looked for a reward. After His suffering was over, He was embraced by God the Father and God the Spirit. He ascended into heaven. We, too, have heaven to look forward to. There God will wipe away every tear from our eye and we will suffer no more.

But heaven is not the last estate of the righteous. The third thing we have to look forward to is the resurrection. God does not intend to allow Satan to destroy the world. The work of Jesus Christ was not to rapture souls out of this world but to restore people in their totality along with this world in its fullness. It is the wicked who will be removed from the creation. There will be a new earth, and we shall have new resurrection bodies.

Think about it for a moment. You will live forever. What will you be doing 150 years after the resurrection? What about 150,000 years later? What about 150 octillion years from now? You see, in the light of this long life of bliss, the few years of suffering we endure in this life amount to but a moment of time. In contrast, those who reject God’s call to suffer in this life may find they are called to suffer forever.

Even if you are not enduring some “strange” form of suffering, chances are that sometime today or yesterday you became inwardly griped about something that happened. How does today’s lesson put the little grievances of life in perspective? How can you apply it to your own circumstances?