Tag Archive for suffering

In Suffering

Father, You gave Your precious, only Son to suffer for us sinners.
Self-sacrifice was Your loving will for Him.
It is Your loving will for each of Your children.
It is Your loving will for me.
When I suffer as Your child,
I share more fully in the beautiful work of Christ.
I share more fully in Him.
I share more fully in You.

Father, I crave relief.
I humbly ask You for it and trust You to give it
in Your perfect way,
in Your perfect time.

Until then, I commit myself to Your care
as Christ committed Himself when He suffered.
You are always love,
You are always good, and
You are always with me.
When suffering comes to Your children,
it is always a transition,
never a destination.
Suffering is always temporary.

So, Father, as Your child,
I trust You,
I look to You, and
I wait on You.
Use this to Your glory.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Father, in This Suffering
Printed Music & Lyrics

Earthen Vessels

We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:7-9, NASB) 

There was given me a thorn in the flesh…I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, NASB)

Servant of God,
do you want your Lord to use you
heart, soul, mind, and body in His service?
Do you long for Him to glorify Himself through you?

Realize that He will use all of you –
not just your strengths, but your weaknesses,
not just your successes, but your failures,
not just your talents, but your glaring inadequacies,
not just your gains, but your losses,
not just your joys, but your griefs,
not just your health, but your sickness and suffering,
not just your wholeness, but your brokenness,
not just your blessings, but all the injustice and abuse you suffer.

He will show everyone that you are only an earthen vessel
so that the needy glorify,
not you,
but Him.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: Glorify Your Name
Printed Music & Lyrics


The New Testament was not written in an ivory tower. Most of its authors and its first readers were people in deep suffering. Their pressures and persecutions were more severe than most of us will ever experience. Thus when the Bible tells us how to handle difficult times, it’s speaking from experience. Its wisdom is thoroughly life-tested.

What do the New Testament writers consistently emphasize for those who are suffering? “Rejoice!” “Be glad!” “Consider yourselves blessed!”

Strange advice? These sufferers give us lots of reasons why rejoicing is a healthy, productive, and reasonable response to difficulties.

1.       Suffering produces a whole garden of beautiful fruit within us, such as endurance, character, and hope (Romans 5:1-5). It strengthens and refines our faith, that essential connection between God and us (1 Peter 1:6-7). It produces maturity and gradually makes us complete in Christ, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).

2.       Suffering is our best chance to glorify God (1 Peter 4:16). The closer Jesus got to the Crucifixion, the more He talked about glorifying His Father. His greatest, most enduring work was accomplished on the Cross. There God’s love was displayed most purely and undeniably.

It will likely be so in our lives as well. Suffering will probably be our greatest chance to glorify God in a world that desperately needs to witness God’s reality in our life.

3.       Suffering is part of releasing what is temporary and grasping what is eternal and of greater value. While our outer person is decaying, our inner person – the real “us” that will live forever – is growing stronger and stronger, day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16).

4.       When we suffer for Jesus and for the spread of the gospel, we have been granted a great privilege! We stand with the greatest saints of all the ages (Matthew 5:11-12; Hebrews 11). Far from being disgraced, we are highly honored to be counted worthy of suffering for Christ (Acts 5:40-42; 1 Peter 4:16). We have become part of His great work to save the world (1 Peter 4:13). Paul said of his own sufferings, “In my flesh I am completing what is still lacking in Christ’s afflictions for his body” (Colossians 1:24, para.). As we suffer, we carry on what Jesus started.

5.       Suffering helps us enjoy more intimate fellowship with Jesus (Philippians 3:7-11). The One with whom we walk face-to-face was “a man of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3). Suffering was a major part of His life experience. When we suffer, we share a deeper bond with Him.

6.       Our present suffering can’t compare, either in degree or in duration, to the joy we will know when Christ takes us to Himself forever (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

Rejoice! Suffering draws us closer to Jesus. As we trust Him, He turns even suffering into great blessing!

We will suffer,
but we need not fear suffering.

Listen and sing:
Hymn: I Rejoice in Your Purpose Today
Printed Music & Lyrics

Father, Whatever Glorifies You

Not my will, but yours be done.
(Luke 22:42, NIV)

Pray this prayer when you are caught in a swirl of events beyond your control.
Pray it during frustrating times;
during uncertain times,
when things aren’t working out right.

Jesus considered His most difficult days as
His best chance to glorify His Father.
He knew that as He hung on the Cross,
the Father’s love would shine the brightest.

So it is with us.
Often our most difficult times are when
others see God’s love and power most clearly in our lives.

Are you willing to let Him use your suffering to glorify himself?

whatever glorifies You.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Glorify Your Name
Printed Music & Lyrics

Dear Dad

Dear Dad,

I’ve been thinking about you lately and praying for you. I know you’re bothered by physical problems these days, trying to recover from surgery. Mom told me about the doctor’s report, and I know that’s hard to face. I also know you’re struggling to cope with a memory that you sense isn’t as good as it once was.

In this morning’s devotions, I read Acts 20:17-38. It’s one of my favorite passages—one of the most moving in the New Testament. Paul is on his way back to Jerusalem at the end of his last missionary journey. While he doesn’t know what will happen, he senses that trouble and possibly the end of his life lie just ahead.

So at the last minute, he decides to sail to Ephesus, one of the cities in which he invested a good portion of his life. He calls the elders of the church to him and there tells them how much he loves them. They are tearful as he says they will never see his face again. He explains that the Holy Spirit has revealed that affliction awaits him in Jerusalem. Then in verse 24 he says:

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus” (para.).

Dad, maybe your situation is similar to Paul’s. You don’t know what lies ahead, but you know you have afflictions to deal with. I pray God will be close to you and help you make Paul’s testimony your own: that you release your life to Him, and all that matters is finishing your life’s work with joy.

I’m discovering for myself that the more constantly I look to the Lord throughout the day, the more strength, guidance, and deep peace He gives me moment by moment. No matter how bad things seem to get, there are no surprises to Him. He’s been there ahead of us, preparing the way, working it out for our good.

I’m reminded of the hymn:

He giveth more grace
when the burdens grow greater;
He sendeth more strength
when the labors increase.
To added affliction
He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials,
His multiplied peace.*

Our physical and mental limitations can take many things from us, but we have one privilege that can never, ever be taken away: the privilege of glorifying God. I pray that you can find joy in glorifying God no matter what comes.

I love you, Dad, and appreciate you more than I can say. My thoughts and prayers are with you always.

Your son.

*From “He Giveth More Grace,” words by Annie Johnson Flint, music by Hubert Mitchell. © 1941, renewed 1969 by Lillenas Publishing Co. Adm. by Music Services.

Blessed Are the Persecuted

This is the tenth of an eleven-part series on the Beatitudes.
Each part features a hymn to a familiar tune.

Jesus eighth and final beatitude is this:

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12, NASB)

The Sermon on the Mount, and particularly the Beatitudes, teach us how to live in the presence of our Father who is almighty, all-wise, all-loving, and always with us. Trusting such a God turns our usual way of living upside-down. Giving now makes sense, not grasping…meekness, not pride…hungering and thirsting after holiness rather than glory and gold. We mourn what others consider normal or even good.

But here, as we suffer persecution and injustice, the opposite happens. In a situation where others mourn, we rejoice. Consider these verses:

When people insult you and persecute you…rejoice and be glad. (Matthew 5:11-12, NASB)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials. (James 1:2, NIV)

Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering…rejoice. (1 Peter 4:12-13, NIV)

Why should we rejoice when life is painfully unjust? Why should suffering that is unfair and even life-threatening become a compelling reason for joy? God’s Word gives us these reasons:

  1. If we suffer for doing the right thing, we are blessed by Sovereign God. He has decreed our eternal well-being. That is reason to celebrate! (Matthew 5:10-12; 1 Peter 3:14; 4:14)
  1. In exchange for temporary suffering, we gain a reward that is infinitely greater and more lasting. It will be the best exchange you ever make! (Matthew 5:10-12; Mark 10:29-30; Romans 8:17-18; 1 Peter 1:3-7; Revelation 2:9-10; 7:13-17)
  1. Suffering for doing good puts us in great company. The saints of all the ages, the prophets, and Jesus Christ Himself went through such suffering and are now enjoying their rich reward. They are like an entire stadium full of encouragers, watching as we run our race, cheering us on. (Hebrews 11:1 – 12:3)
  1. Suffering is extremely fruitful. When we are willing to suffer for Christ and for what is right, others take notice. Christ considered His suffering to be His best chance to glorify His Father. It is our best chance as well. As we suffer, we are planting seeds that will grow an abundant, eternal harvest. (John 12:23-28a; Philippians 1:12-14; 2 Timothy 2:8-10)
  1. Suffering tests and refines our faith, which is our vital connection with the unseen God. Suffering builds priceless character traits that can’t be developed any other way. (Romans 5:1-5; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7; 4:12-14)
  1. Most importantly, as we suffer for Christ, we are suffering with Christ. We are united with Him more deeply. In a very tangible way that goes beyond words, we are embracing His faith in the Father, His commitment to the salvation of the world, and His eternal destiny. We are throwing in our lot completely with Him. We are bound to Him, not just by our promises, but by pain and sacrifice. (Philippians 3:7-11; Colossians 1:24; 2 Timothy 2:11-12)

When Jesus listed the qualities that God blesses most richly, the qualities that are the keys to true and eternal success, the climax of His list was suffering for Christ.

Father, when I have to suffer for following Christ, help me not to be surprised, discouraged, angry, or afraid. You offer each believer a unique opportunity to share in His sufferings in some small way. When my opportunity comes, help me to accept it for what it is: a precious and personal gift from You.

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: Captives of Eternal Love
Printed Music & Lyrics


God’s Gift-Wrapping

Have you ever noticed? Throughout the Bible, God’s greatest gifts come wrapped in disappointment and delay. Over and over again, His mightiest, most wonderful works are birthed with suffering and waiting.

Abraham was nearing 100 years of age before his long-promised son was born.

The Exodus was preceded by 400 years of slavery.

The birth of Christ came after centuries of seeming silence from God.

Jesus’ resurrection was preceded by His suffering, death, and three days in the tomb.

Revelation teaches that His return will come only after severe suffering and the apparent triumph of evil.

The Scriptures provide endless examples. God’s saints throughout the ages have testified to the same truth.

Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up.
(Galatians 6:9, NIV)

Listen…and sing if you want:
Hymn: By Faith
Printed Music & Lyrics


Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 2:4-5, NIV)

Our son had recently bought his first car. We all felt good about it. He went out and got his own insurance policy to save money. It was a used car, and he couldn’t afford collision coverage.

One day a girl ran a stoplight, hit him broadside, and totaled his car. She had no insurance and was on welfare, so he had no hope of collecting from her.

After looking forward to it and working for it so long, he had no car and no money to replace it, and at no fault of his own. We all hurt so deeply for him.

Not long after, my wife and I went and saw a film on the holocaust. It put our situation with the car in perspective. We had tasted just the tiniest part of the world’s misery, pain, and loss…its sense of injustice, disappointment, and frustration.

Lord, my abilities are small, but help me lift You up that You might draw needy people to yourself. Let my dearest dreams fail, but use me to relieve the suffering of others.