Session 13

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.

Reflect:

  • 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?


13 of 30

Devotionals From This Study

to Discover More

Session 1

What are you building your life on?

People-pleasing is an addiction of sorts. It starts with a craving for approval. Once we’ve experienced the applause and approval of men,...

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Session 2

Are you living like you’ve been made new?

Pop psychology says we can overcome our problems and be a better version of ourselves. If you’ve ever tried that, you know it’s exhaustin...

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Session 3

Rules are easier, but a relationship is better

It’s easy to read Paul’s letter and wonder why people would turn back to the law. Why willing submit to keeping all 613 commandments of t...

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Session 4

It’s good to be a child of God

Ever notice how kids seem to fall asleep faster when mom or dad is in the room? The monster under the bed has nothing on mom or dad. And ...

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Session 5

What if freedom isn’t what you think it is?

Ever noticed how hard it can be to share an umbrella? A step too fast or a step too slow, and you’re left out in the rain. Pull too hard ...

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Session 6

Where to turn when your heart grows weary

Desperation can lead us to do things we’d never imagine. When the pain is overwhelming, the pill doesn’t look so bad. When our debt is cr...

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Session 7

What happens when knowing God becomes the reason we pray

Think about the last time someone was unexpectedly generous toward you. When a coworker drops everything to join you in the waiting room,...

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Session 8

Awe is the best motivation for action

Have you ever tried to collect payment from a dead man? It’s near impossible. Unless someone steps in to cover the bill, you’re out whate...

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Session 9

Good things can come from hard times

It’s easy to project our own definitions of “good,” “just,” and “loving” onto God. And why wouldn’t we? Before Jesus, all we know of good...

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Session 10

What it means to be a member of God’s family

When we ask Jesus into our lives, we become a part of His family forever. The same way that an adopted child takes on all the rights and ...

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Session 11

You are the light in the darkness

Remember the song “This Little Light of Mine”? Although simple, the song’s lyrics are packed with truth. When we find life in Christ, we ...

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Session 12

You’re not fighting a losing battle

You could look at the state of society and lament that “everything’s going to hell in a handbasket.”Sometimes, it seems as if lies flouri...

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Session 13

You can experience freedom in suffering

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 b...

Read Devotional

Session 14

You’re at your most powerful when you humble yourself

Psalm 14 describes the person who takes advantage of others as a fool. The fool stops seeking God’s will because he thinks he knows what’...

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Session 15

The power to defeat sin is in you but not of you

We often find ourselves in a battle between what our flesh wants and what God wants for us. So we try harder. We make more rules. We come...

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Session 16

Where we go to find joy in any circumstance

Every romantic comedy has a moment where the guy tells something along these lines:"I’ll be fine as long as I have you."It’s a sweet sent...

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Session 17

Learn to see yourself as God sees you

Before Jesus set us free from sin and death, we were alienated from God. The chasm between us was too much to overcome on our own.This es...

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Session 18

How to stand strong when trouble comes your way

When planted, the seed has to break or die. It’s impossible for a seed to become a beautiful flower or delicious vegetable without breaki...

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Session 19

We don’t have to wait for eternity

Summer sunsets are the best. As the light slowly fades, brilliant oranges and bold reds paint the sky with color and texture that’s hard ...

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Session 20

One way to know if you’re walking in wisdom

It doesn’t take long to learn that how we speak to and about others matters. At some point, we’ve all reaped the consequences of snapping...

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Session 21

The faith-filled life is a dependent life

Following Jesus has never come without challenges. Wherever the good news was preached, persecution seemed to follow (1 Thessalonians 2:1...

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Session 22

Three ways to stand firm as we wait for Jesus’ return

2 Thessalonians is Paul’s second letter to the church in Thessalonica. After commending the church, Paul goes on to appeal to them to “st...

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Session 23

You can’t do this on your own

Sheep are never more free than when they’re following their shepherd. The shepherd knows them better than they know themselves. As he gui...

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Session 24

Who’s running the show?

God is sovereign. That’s why Paul encouraged Timothy and other believers to pray for their government leaders — the same officials who we...

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Session 25

Learning to be disciplined and dependent

God gives us freedom in Jesus freely; it’s a gift.At the same time, we live daily, working out our salvation with fear and trembling. So ...

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Session 26

When the way down is really the way up

Jesus turns the world’s values upside down. In His kingdom, those the world calls wise are really foolish. Those we see as rich are often...

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Session 27

What to remember when fear leaves you paralyzed

We have all experienced fear. The fear of loneliness or loss, the fear of uncertainty or being misunderstood, the fear of rejection or si...

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Session 28

A secret to hearing God’s voice clearly

We all have teams we support and wear their colors proudly. But does wearing our favorite player’s jersey give us their athletic skill? O...

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Session 29

Why you should get passionate about your spiritual health

As the early church grew, Paul spent much of his time writing to younger leaders to encourage, equip, correct, and impart wisdom. He task...

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Session 30

Where would you be without the Gospel?

In Psalm 30, David praises God for delivering him from death’s hand. David was delivered from death physically and spiritually. Onesimus,...

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