Part 2 of Stronger than Before…
As much as we try to avoid pain, we all experience it, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual pain. Just like Austin’s break caused him much agony, on the other side of the suffering was great healing and a stronger bone.
In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 5:10-11
God always knows what we need, where are weaknesses are, and how to make us stronger in Him. He is far more concerned with our faith level than with our comfort level. He allows things to happen for our good, even though they may cause temporary pain or discomfort.
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4: 8-10
Please hear me! This is where our ideas of Jesus meet reality. Yes, Jesus is good and kind, and He is love. Yes, in heaven there will be no pain, anguish, or tears. But we aren’t in heaven. We live, as aliens, in a fallen world with desperate and hurting people. Jesus came, in the flesh, and experienced all the same things we experience: hunger, pain, death. We have much to learn from our sufferings!
We learn to comfort others with the same comfort we received in our suffering.
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1: 4-5
This comfort brings authenticity to gospel. Loving others with the love of Christ allows people to see love in action. To be the hands of Christ to the hurting is a great honor and privilege.
We learn to let Jesus defend us and intercede on our behalf. Our trust and faith in Christ grow as we surrender our rights and lay down our lives, hopes, desires, for others.
We learn who we are in Him and because of Him. Our identity changes from self-focused to other-focused. We let Christ define us.
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ…Philippians 3: 7-9
Our response to our suffering can do so much to show the world all that we have learned, to bring glory to Christ and to comfort others. We know He works all things for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28).
So if you are suffering, please know that you are seen and heard. That your suffering is not for nothing. Cling to the truth of God’s goodness. Fight the thoughts that come against that truth! Lay down any image you have of perfection, and let the great Comforter in to draw you close and lead you through the path He has for you. Trust and believe in the kindness of Jesus Christ, the one who bore your sins and shame!
And like Austin’s arm, where we were weak, we will be strong!