John 16:33 - (Jesus said) "I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."
Although suffering is more a part of the lives of some of us than of others, it is an experience common to us all.
Sometimes our suffering is physical. We suffer pain caused by illness or injury. Some suffer seasonally, from summer's heat or winter's cold and ice. Some people suffer because of genetic issues or societal crises like poverty or malnutrition or living in high-crime areas. For others their pain is emotional or mental, causing strained relationships or families that fracture which leads to yet more problems.
And, of course, we all suffer from our sins and where they can lead. The chronic drinker's body suffers from overindulging in alcohol. The habitual liar leaves a trail of wreckage littered with broken promises and misplaced trust. And who among us doesn't experience some emotional trauma stemming from the guilt and shame of our secret sins.
At times we also suffer because of our love and commitment to our Lord. While certainly many Christians around the world suffer severe persecution because of their faith, our experience may be more the rejection or hurt feelings we suffer for standing up for what we believe is right.
All of our suffering, however, pales into insignificance when we view our suffering Savior. He suffered intense physical pain and excruciating mental and emotional anguish to pay the penalty for our sins. He suffered for us so that we would not have to endure the eternal suffering our sins deserved. And though we may suffer here on earth, as the apostle Paul says, "the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18b). That glory is ours—not because of our sufferings—because our Lord suffered for us.
Take a moment, if you will, and turn to Luke 22:39-23:31. There you will read about the last hours of Jesus' life on earth. As you read about His anguished prayer at Gethsemane where "His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground," think about the enormity of what lay before Him. With His betrayal and arrest, and the stabbing pain He felt from Peter's denial, Jesus is left alone: mocked, scorned, and beaten.
The road to the cross was a bloody one. And for all of our suffering, however great, no one experienced more than Jesus. As you read again the passage from Luke, think in earnest on all that the Savior suffered for you: the absurdity of Barabbas' being set free, the bloodthirsty mob, the taunts on the cross, and the brutality of execution.
After considering what the Savior suffered for you and me, please join me in a prayer of thanks to God that His Son took our suffering—so we wouldn't have to.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, though we suffer in this world for many reasons, we need not suffer eternally for our sins. Christ our Savior has taken that pain for us at the cross. Give our hearts faith to place our trust in Him. In His Name we pray. Amen.
From The Lutheran Layman, February 1980 issue, "He Suffered for Us" by Ron Schlegel
1. Do you feel you have a good grasp on what human suffering is all about? Why is this so?
2. Do Jesus' words bring you peace? How do you "take heart" in what He says when life is a struggle?
3. Does it take a special sensitivity to tune in on someone's suffering? Are we sometimes more adept at being callous to the plight of others than responsive? Why might this be so?
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