You can experience freedom in suffering
From Letters of Paul: 30-Day Bible Study
None of us are exempt from suffering. Just because we follow Jesus does not mean we are immune to hurt, doubt, and pain. The difference between suffering and suffering well lies in our perspective.
In Psalm 13, David, a king the Bible calls a man after God’s own heart, describes a season of suffering and depression. David asks God how long he must wrestle with hardship before he experiences freedom. At the same time, David sings God’s praises because he trusts God’s plan and rests in his salvation. David understood freedom isn’t the absence of hardship, but the presence of God.
Paul also knew hardship. After all, he wrote Philippians from a prison cell.
The presence of God can’t be kept away by bars and chains. Even in jail, Paul experienced the unhindered presence of God. He continued preaching the good news. He trusted God’s promises of deliverance and prayed for others to be filled with the righteousness that only Jesus can provide (Philippians 1:6-7).
Paul understood that sometimes God trusts us with hardship. That what we see as an obstacle might be God giving us an opportunity:
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ” (Philippians 1:12-13).
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be immediately delivered from hard things. But God might have something greater in mind. And if we’ll look to Him in our hard times, we’ll see, like Paul, that what others meant for our harm God can use for good.
When you find yourself in a season of earthly suffering, try to view your hardship from an eternal perspective. Rest in knowing that this life is not all there is. The worst the world can throw at us — death — was defeated at the cross.
- Do you feel stuck in a season of hardship? Are you fighting your battles with an eternal perspective of from an earthly focus?
- What is the worst-case scenario from the struggle you’re facing today? Ask God to speak to that fear today. How does the Gospel give you hope even in the worst possible outcome?