The Promise of Suffering

2 Corinthians 1:8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure… 

A friend hears you’re competing in marathons and decides that they’re going to do one.  You share all your stories of the comradery of your training group, the excitement of thousands of racers at the start line, and the elation of crossing the finish line.  They’ve never really been a runner and don’t do much physical activity, but it all sounds like fun.  They are lucky and get a last-minute opening, days before the race.  They buy some brand-new running shoes, a racing singlet and shorts.  On the day of the race they line up at the start with the throngs of people and they take it all in.  “Wow, this is absolutely amazing!”.  The gun goes off and they are sucked along with the throngs of runners and for one mile your friend feels like they are floating on air and running at a pace they never knew they could run.  In fact, they say to themselves: “this is amazingly easy”.  But somewhere during the next mile things become more uncomfortable and by mile 2 the enjoyment is gone.  By the third mile, it is nothing but suffering and when they see the four-mile marker, and realize they have 22 more miles to go, they collapse at the side of the road.  Emergency personnel care for them and drive them to the end of the race.  A few hours later when you finish the race, you find them in the medical tent.  They exclaim: “that sucked; why didn’t you tell me about the suffering?”

Who wouldn’t tell their friend about the suffering? Who wouldn’t tell them about the hundreds of miles you had to train for that one day, the hill climbing workouts where you were bent over a garbage can puking, or the weekend 20-mile distance runs where you baked in the sun?  And of the race itself, who wouldn’t tell them about “the wall”, the place in the race that most marathoners hit late in the event where your mind tells you to stop but you need to defeat it by continuing through the suffering?  Yes, the reward at the finish line is something almost indescribable, but it comes at a price – a price of suffering.

Likewise, what genuine Christian teacher would teach about all the glory of walking with the Lord without teaching of the suffering?  Certainly not the original Christian teachers.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:3-9)

The above is what true “Christian teachers” will share with you as a believer.  “in this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33), and as Paul said above, sometimes the suffering and the pressure will be “far beyond [your] ability to endure” (vs. 8).  And why does God allow this?  “that we might not rely on ourselves but on God” (vs. 9).  He will comfort “us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (vs. 4).  As a Christian, don’t be surprised by the “fiery ordeal” that you face (1 Peter 4:12). Be ready for it, train for it, and don’t “rely on [yourself], but on God”!

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply