"…hope does not put us to shame...”
I wrestled with this question about a month ago as I was taking notes as my husband was preaching.
Daniel and I have faced many seasons of suffering in our lives, some harder than others. One of them sticks out vividly.
Soon after finding out I was pregnant with my first child, a fast growing tumor was found in my abdomen. Not knowing if it was cancerous, it needed to be removed immediately – even before my son would be viable outside the womb if anything should happen. It was terrifying. It was an excruciating 8 week recovery. But praise the Lord, although doctors were baffled by it, it was not cancer and God graciously protected the life of my son.
Two and a half years later when I was pregnant with my daughter, my doctor and I laughed at my first appointment saying that this time we would actually get to have a normal pregnancy without all that surgery drama. As she scanned me for my first ultrasound, there it was again. Another large tumor. I sat there staring at the very thing I was guaranteed I would never have to face again by doctors because it was so weird and so rare. So again, I packed my things and went to Duke Hospital to have surgery.
This time, I knew how bad the pain would be, I knew how long and painful the recovery would be, my husband knew how much I would need him the first few weeks for everything plus the added demand this time of a toddler. And I knew the risk to my baby. Knowing I could go into surgery with a healthy but fragile baby inside me and come out on the other side without a child. Perhaps knowing what was ahead is what made it worse the second time around.
For the Christian, knowing what is ahead beyond the suffering changes the way we suffer. Christ delivers us from the idols of comfort and ease and our fear of suffering because he redeems it, providing an example, a help, and a hope within it.
AN EXAMPLE IN SUFFERING
Jesus knew the suffering that was ahead of Him. Long ago before time and in unity He, the Father, and the Spirit decided this was the great plan for redemption. This is how they would reach across the divide between God and man, that is sin, and bridge the gap so man could once again have relationship with the Father. Jesus would suffer for it. He would die an embarrassing, excruciating criminal’s death to pay for our sins. He provides a powerful example for us to “consider” of suffering with hope so that we too can endure for the glory of God, so that we will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:3).
HELP IN SUFFERING
But Jesus didn’t just leave you an example to follow. You are not all alone to muster up the strength by yourself to trust Him in the dark night of your soul. If you have made Jesus your savior, then He has given you His Spirit which enables you to move through the waves of suffering and not drown within them. He is the anchor that holds you through the storm.
PURPOSE IN SUFFERING
Not only does the spirit comfort and sustain you, but Because Christ’s work on the cross justified us, we have the hope of being made more like Jesus in our trials. The Spirit makes us holy through the hardship we endure (James 1:2, 1 Peter 4:1-2). We can rejoice in suffering because of the work it is doing within us.
HOPE IN SUFFERING
In verse 2 of Romans 5, we are told that the source of our hope is “the glory of God.” Not comfort or ease or the thought that “things will get better,” but to see God glorified is our ultimate hope. We can rejoice in the hope of the glory of God because Jesus did it first! He waded through a life of suffering and a horrible death because He desired the glory of His Father and relationship with you and me more than He desired His own comfort. He secured your hope. The hope of a believer is a different kind of hope because it is SURE. SECURED! However you may be considering yourself “poor” today, whether it be in health, wealth, or happiness, be encouraged sister:
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.” – 2 Corinthians 8:9
You do not have to fear poverty and earthly loss if you are in Christ because Jesus has secured for you a greater reward and comfort - eternity with Himself and his presence always. Our limited, human minds just cannot understand what details of great glory that is still to come for us, but we are guaranteed it is far better than what is here on Earth.
Jesus exhibited endurance in His trials. His character was proven in His suffering. And His hope was God’s glory by fulfilling the will of God for His life which included humble beginnings as a baby in a barn to an innocent man hung on a cross. And He did it for you and me. We too, can be brought low in the world’s eyes and call it gain because when we share in Christ’s sufferings we share in His comfort as adopted sons and daughters. (2 Corinthians 1:5; Romans 8:15)
“a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.”
I love that line. It acknowledges that yes, this world is cursed and heavy and weary and we all feel the weight of it. But, there is hope! There is hope in the God-Man who came as a baby all those years ago to a poor teenage girl. Our hope does not put us to shame when we suffer because we “…rejoice in the hope of the glory of God!”
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION/ APPLICATION:
- What form of suffering are you most afraid of? The death of your spouse or child? Illness? Financial ruin? How does the coming of Christ change the way you imagine that circumstance.
- How does it make you feel to know that Christ also suffered? “Consider” the way he endured suffering. How does this give you hope and comfort in your own trial?
- What has God done so that you don’t have to muster up the strength to endure suffering? How does this give us confidence that we can endure when it comes?
Heather Ritchie was born and raised in North Carolina, She and her husband of 11 years, Daniel, currently reside in the Charlotte area with their two children, Teague and Elliott. She is a hand lettering and calligraphy artist and runs the Heather's Letters Shop selling products that bring fun, hope, and encouragement to others. She and her husband have served together in ministry since before they met and have been in full time student ministry for the last 11 years. Heather is happiest when her home is full, or when she is ocean-side with another cup of coffee. Website: www.heathers-letters.com ; IG: @heathersletters ; Facebook: @heatherslettersdesign