Suffering with Joy, not Guilt

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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 heavenly hug this May Wednesday. To know that suffering is a normal part of the Christian life brings us a great deal of comfort and relief. For many of us were taught suffering and sickness, weariness and loss only happen because of a lack of faith on our part.

It’s not that we want to suffer more, Jesus, but none of us wants to suffer believing we’re a disappointment to you, are being punished by you, or have been abandoned by you. Indeed, “fiery ordeals” aren’t for our punishment, but our purification. They’re not a sign of a lack of faith, but the presence of your heart and hand in a very broken world.

Your death on the cross was a once-and-for-all suffering—perfectly securing our complete salvation, and consummate healing. Now sitting at the right hand of the Father, you’re not a distant, disconnected, dispassionate Savior. You are making all things new.

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. Give us joy in our tears and hope in our hurts.

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 forever 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.

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