Accepting Suffering as a Normal Part of Our Heavenward Journey

     Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Pet. 4:12–13 (NIV)

Lord Jesus, this portion of your Word comes like a warm embrace from heaven this May Sunday. To know that suffering is a normal part of the Christian life actually brings us a great deal of comfort and relief. For many of us have wrongly suffered destructive consequences from bad theology—various teachings that make us feel like spiritual wimps for experiencing sickness or weariness, lack or loss, defeat or doubt.

It’s not that we want to suffer more, but none of us want to suffer with a sense of being a disappointment to you, or feeling abandoned by you, or being punished by you. Indeed, “fiery ordeals” aren’t about our punishment, but our purification. They’re not a sign of a lack of faith, but the presence of your heart and hand.

Your death on the cross was a once-and-for-all suffering—perfectly securing the salvation of your people. But as you now sit at the right hand of the Father, you’re not a distant, disconnected, dispassionate Savior. You’re presently making all things new, and this involves showing up in the messes and madness of life.

You are present wherever there is injustice and disease, brokenness and suffering. Embolden us to join you there, fellowship with you there, and serve with you there (Phil. 3:10). May our suffering intensify our compassion, focus our prayers, and be a source of encouragement to fellow sufferers.

The Day of NO more suffering is coming (Rev. 21:1–5)—the Day when your glory will be fully revealed, and our healing will be eternally enjoyed. What a Day of rejoicing that will be. Until then, give us all the grace and power we will need to live and love to your glory. So very Amen we pray, in your wonderful and merciful name.