Do you suffer on purpose?

redemptive suffering statue with tearsThe crucifixion is not something that happens to Jesus on his way to doing something else.
   ~ Michael Horton
   A Place for Weakness

Jesus walked headfirst into suffering. Not because he was a masochist, but for the joy and glory to God that would result from it.

Who wants to suffer?
Certainly not me.

But I suffer better when I know there’s purpose in it.

Jesus’ mission was widely misunderstood. His disciples thought they would hit the big time with him. But what they often missed in his amazing signs—and often we do too?—is that the signs were there to point to greater things. Don’t just look at the sign; look at what the sign is pointing to.

Jesus pointed to the Father. Everything he did was for God’s glory.

Like the signs, there’s no glory alone just in suffering. Lots of people suffer and do it poorly.

But what can the suffering point to that makes it done well?

Gentile power brokers put their enemies on crosses in order to get to the top; this ruler puts himself on one for his enemies.

The disciples didn’t like for Jesus to talk about death and crosses. Who deserved suffering less than Jesus? Yet it was all according to plan, all for God’s glory.

Horton tells the story of his pastor and mentor James Montgomery Boice dying of pancreatic cancer. Boice asked his congregation, “I am not asking that you pray for my recovery, but that in my death I will bring glory to my faithful Savior.”

He saw God giving him grace not to go around trials, but to go through them.

Scripture says we share in the sufferings to share in the glory (Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 1:29; 1 Peter 4:13). We voluntarily surrender to death to gain new life (Matthew 10:39).

The message we are given to proclaim is not that God has come to make our lives better, more interesting, more influential, more virtuous, or more successful, but to bury us and make us truly alive.

We will have sorrows and grief. But if we pick up the cross—not step around it—we can find joy and purpose in those sufferings because of Who we’re doing it for.

* * *

What helps you find joy even in suffering?

We’re discussing Chapter 3, “Suffering on Purpose” and Chapter 4, “Is Your God Big Enough?” in A Place for Weakness today at Elizabeth’s.

More A Place for Weakness

16 comments:

Julie said...

Lisa,

Sparked by both yesterday and today's posts! Thanks so much for the quotes and questions to ponder...I have found it as truth in my life that in the discomforts, yes even in what I might consider to be a level of suffering..(in my emotions and heart~missing my husband so much) that I have been "propelled" to act - to move to a different place of response or adapting to life...and always in a movement towards God...to spill out, to talk, to appeal for strength or fortitude...Today's was awesome. The statement "I suffer better when I know there is purpose in it,,,"...wow...I'm right there...
And yet in striving to Practice the presence of God in ALL moments, to remember and embrace that FACT...I have to believe that there is purpose in it all, and yes, HE is walking me through it...Being a Christian, there are just times where I think in feeling some suffering, we actually in our spirit, FEEL that Hand of God walking us through it, when we lean in and grasp on to HIM a little tighter...Thanks for inspiration and encouragement this morning, Lisa...HUGS to you.

Melissa said...

Amen! Suffering is hard, to be sure, but what a blessing it is to know that it has a purpose. Often I can't see how God will be glorified in a specific circumstance, but my prayer is always that He will. I love that you brought it back to the Who. It's all about Him. Thank you, my friend!

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

These chapters (and the whole book so far) are packed with such wisdom! I've not read a book like this before, and it's really hitting home with me.

I can honestly say that I've felt blessed by the opportunity to witness to others in our family's current situation. That doesn't mean I'm always happy or enthusiastic about this road, but I try to walk in such a way that God is glorified. It's TOUGH and I fall short A LOT, but that is my heart's desire.

Lisa notes... said...

Julie,
I’d say you definitely have had your share of suffering by being without your husband and by sacrificing your son for our country. And now moving to a totally new environment. Not to mention the everyday bumps of life. I do believe that for believers, all our suffering is for the Lord, not just persecution we might receive for being a Christian. And yet he takes all our suffering and somehow redeems it in ways we don’t understand. I see him doing that in you and you reflect it well through your love for Him and for your husband and your son, regardless of circumstances. Yes, FEELING that Hand of God with us is a miracle and a huge inspiration to keep going. You keep going, friend!

Danelle said...

I came over from Ann's. I love this. Dying to live. I wrote a post called "SOWN" that is about how what we must bury is dead, we don't bury the alive body, the whole fruit. . but we must bury to live fully.
Thanks for this post. It was beautiful.

Lisa notes... said...

Melissa (Frugal),
I know you must be dealing with a special kind of suffering for what is yet to come. My heart pleads with the Lord to show you grace at every opportunity. Yes, he has a purpose even in breast cancer, and you are already glorifying him through it. Know that I lift you before his throne often. You are special.

And Melissa (Breath),
Melissa,
The funny thing about this book is that I read a few paragraphs, then I have to go back and re-read and go, “Oh!” It’s really helping me to hear the comments each week because sometimes I miss things. I am blessed that you are reading it also because I appreciate your take on it based on where you’re coming from and how faithful I’ve seen you in the life changes you’ve had to experience. You keep putting your faith in God, proclaiming that he knows what he’s doing with it all. That encourages many of us.

Barbara H. said...

Very moving thoughts. We want the resurrection and the glory but forget that suffering and death comes first.

Brian Miller said...

nice. suffering is something we all connect in as well...each of us have been there or know someone that has been there...and so christ went there

Kati patrianoceu said...

Wow... another hefty topic! Thank you for the message, it is so true and much needed.

tinuviel said...

The opening quote hits the nail on the head. The last one, also, pointing out that "God came....to bury us and make us truly alive," echoes what a teacher said on the radio on my errand for the day.

Lord, grant me grace to take up the cross willingly and not fight against this gift of suffering.

Rambling Heather said...

Oh how hard suffering can be! Thank you for this reminder on how our Lord suffered and the purpose behind it. I am still pondering these thoughts, these questions that you ask. WoW!

Katie said...

I have found God in the suffering with me. Finding God with me has brought me the most comfort when my heart is hurting and brings me joy. Also to know I am not alone (God and friends) helps me have joy. I no longer fake that everything is ok. I am honest with myself and others with how I am doing. All this has brought more joy and true relationships.

Anna said...

Your headline got me "Do you suffer on purpose?" My truthful answer is -- of course not! I don't choose it.

But it is true, that through suffering I've also experienced joy, and a closeness to God that I may not otherwise have experienced, and I treasure that.

Here is a verse that I've gone back to often and has offered great comfort-- you mention the verse previous: "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Romans 8:18
I love how you close, your final sentence, and I love how you point us to Him, Lisa.

emily wierenga said...

oh, dear lisa, i found such an encouragement in this today. there is a reason for suffering. it all points to him. and the purpose in life is to be buried so we might live. thank you.

Mrs. M. said...

It is hard to accept suffering. We shy from it. We literally recoil from pain.

But without pain, we can have no growth. How then can we be tested without the discomfort of tears and anguish?

Thank you for your words.

Embrace His blessings,

Mrs. M.

Joybird said...

I too find the comfort in the why. If I can get a glimpse of what He is doing, how my suffering can serve Him I bear it better. But I wonder how I often I actually look for this or am I just focused on the suffering itself? Your post is sparking some great questions, thanks.

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