What purpose does suffering serve?

As a believers in Jesus, we are not immune to suffering in our lives? Because we crave comfort in our lives, this causes confusion? “Why would God do this to me?” is usually the conversation we have in our heads or maybe with others. After all, isn’t God love? What does the Bible, God’s word spoken to us, say about suffering?

Today in my devotions I read Romans 5, where it says:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

This past week, in Sunday school with 6- and 7-year-olds, we were talking about God’s glory and what it means. That is a hard thing to wrap your mind around even as an adult. The way we explained it was like a box of treasure that holds things too wonderful to imagine. So, in thinking about the passage above, the hope of one day seeing God’s glory and what that holds gives us a joyful hope. And that hope is produced through our suffering. In the end, something we dread, suffering as a believer in Christ, produces something that brings us hope and peace in God.

Come to Jesus

Today was a great day at church, and it was something different. First of all, I had the opportunity to lead the first- and second-graders in Sunday school. Our lesson was based around the passage in Mark 2:1-11 where Jesus heals the man who is paralyzed, but not before he forgives the man’s sins.

The way the lesson went, we talked about what the man’s biggest problem was. He was paralyzed, but Jesus did something else first. He forgave him. Now, there are many ways you can look at that passage, and it’s a great one. What we talked about was that we have to realize that we have a need greater than anything we can see about our lives: our sinful hearts. And there is only one person who can heal us: Jesus Christ. So we all need to come to him. Whether he solves all the things we see as wrong with our lives is not as important as our heart problem.

Another thing we talked about, which fit in nicely with the main service, was the friends who lowered the paralyzed man through the roof so he could get to Jesus. These men didn’t heal him, but they did something great for the man. As part of our battleship series, we prayed for the list of people we call POWs — prisoners in the spiritual battle for our souls. Even though these images aren’t the same, the idea is in that we need to bring people to Jesus so he can save them. It’s not us, but God uses our efforts to save sinners.

I asked the boys and girls if there was something that was special to them that they could tell me about. I heard about special birthday presents, their pets, their family. We then talked about how Jesus is more special than any of those things. If that’s the case we should want to share him with those we meet. Otherwise, we are not loving. That is the goal before us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:6-8