If something hurts, how much worse does it not get if that is all we can think about? It’s so easy to grumble and complain about how much we hurt after a knee gets twisted, a finger gets smashed, we catch a bug, or a headache hangs around longer than it should. Never mind that everything else is fine or decently so. Or let’s say we have a bad day and suddenly life is hopeless and all sunshine has gone. Or our confidence takes a hit because of what someone said to us or about us and there we are, telling ourselves we are useless and no one cares anymore.
All of these things happen, and all of these things hurt. And it’s not possible to just forget about them and move on. Don’t misunderstand me here. But if we start obsessing about the hurts and forget about the good, the hurts is all we will have.
Those are all little things, things that eventually resolve themselves over time. But what about the big things? A loved one passing away? An incurable illness? An accident that permanently disables us? A family member suffering and there’s nothing we can do? And i can’t even accurately speak about mental illnesses and struggles due to my own lack of knowledge and experience in the area. But there are struggles there too.
How much of all of these (and so many, many more) struggles do we carry when we don’t have to? Scripture tells us that God is a doer of impossible things, the strength in our weakness, the peace in our fear, and the hope in our despair. He is our Father, and He loves us. And He does not just sit back and watch us suffer. While i can not say that all our pains, cares, and worries will disappear, i can say that God wants to help carry those burdens. There will always be suffering while we are here on this earth; that is a guarantee. But that doesn’t mean our sufferings are who we are. They do not define us. Christ does. Our identity should be rooted in Christ, not in our plights.
With a verse like this, i think we just need the one. Haha. This says a lot. We can meditate on and complain about everything that’s wrong with our life, but how often do we focus on the glory that is to come, that is “going to be revealed to us”? And look at what Paul says. He says that he doesn’t think the sufferings of the time are worth being compared to the glory to come. Not worth being compared. Not that they can’t be compared, but that they aren’t even worth it. And there is a lot of suffering in this world. This verse is making me very emotional, y’all. i’m experiencing a lot of anxiety these days over everything that is happening or might happen, and reading this gives me such hope. Because while i live in a world of pain and suffering, i’m destined to live in glory with Jesus! And this hope is for you too! Whatever your suffering is, hold on to the hope of what is to come. Remember that Paul – who was imprisoned, tortured, and relentlessly persecuted – didn’t consider not just his own, but all sufferings of the present time not worth comparing to the glory of the Lord.
As Christians, we should seek to become more like Christ, to mirror Him to the world, and to point people to Him. Sufferings and difficulties give us a unique power in that arena. Anyone can be strong and at peace when things are good and easy, but when we are suffering we are best able to demonstrate the strength and power of Jesus.
But [Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.Romans 12:9-10
Here, Paul is talking about his “thorn in the flesh” and how he had pleaded with the Lord 3 times to take it away from him. Then, getting his response from the Lord, Paul responded with a ‘therefore.’ (This is one of my favorite words in Bible study.) So because Christ’s power is perfected in weakness, Paul said he would boast all the more about his weakness. Doing so would exalt Christ and bring the power of Christ to dwell within him. Paul was so passionate about glorifying Jesus that he rejoiced in his weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. In all of this, Christ would be further glorified. That is such devotion. Here Paul is completely denying himself, willing not only to suffer but to rejoice in those sufferings just so Christ could be exalted. And in Christ being perfected in Paul’s weaknesses, Paul was strengthened.
So how about we stop trying to find a perfect life with perfect health and perfect circumstances? How about we focus instead on pouring ourselves into Christ, and seeing our weaknesses – every last one of them – as an opportunity for Christ to do His amazing work in our lives? His power is perfected in our weakness. Not only does it show the world that Christ is in us, but it gives us strength as well. Believing we have it all together and can do it on our own only serves to deceive us. It robs us of the strength God wants to give to us when we ask, and it robs Jesus of the glory He deserves. Furthermore, focusing on our sufferings and shortcomings robs us of the peace we could have in surrendering to Christ. For in surrendering to Christ we no longer carry that burden on our own. So cast all your cares on Him, for He cares about you.