The first question we tend to ask when we see suffering in others or experience suffering personally tends to be, “Why, God.” We want to know why a good, all-powerful God would allow such suffering. It is a question that has dwelt in the hearts of humanity throughout every generation. As Christians. is it possible that we need to make that question secondary to this question: “How, God?” In other words, we need to ask God how we can work in us and through us to make Jesus more fully known. It seems experientially and biblically that there are at least three ways that we Jesus can become more fully known during seasons of suffering.
First of all, suffering in others provides an opportunity to minister to them with the grace of Jesus. James says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before god, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27 Christians should be available to sacrificially care and minister to those who suffer with the love of Jesus. This means meeting practically meeting felt earthly needs while showing them that Jesus is the answer to their greatest need – repentance of sin, forgiveness through the cross of Christ, and eternal life with God! And unlike the friends of Job, our job (couldn’t resist using Job-job together!) is not to judge those that suffer and point out their faults as the reason for their suffering. God knows the reasons, we don’t!
Secondly, when we suffer, we will be able to share clearly with other that Jesus is our hope. They will see in us the magnitude of what it means to be people who have faith in Jesus. Sharing and Living Jesus through suffering is like speaking through a megaphone. When we share Jesus in seasons of comfort, we whisper that Jesus is the way. When we share Jesus in seasons of suffering, we shout Jesus is the way! Other will see that Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for God, for those who are called according to his purpose.”, is not simply and intellectually teaching but a deep reality of our life. And when others see us suffering to make Jesus known, they will see a personal expression of suffering that pushes them to see and embrace the suffering of Jesus himself. This is what Paul means when he rejoiced in suffering that served to awaken hearts to the good news of Jesus. See Colossians 1:24
Finally, personal suffering provides an opportunity to know Jesus more fully. Job’s suffering enable Him to experience God in a way that he would not be able to otherwise. Job says in 42:5, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.” The orphan is able to declare, “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.” Psalms 27:10 The lonely here Jesus say, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 The fearful will learn to “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Psalm 27:14 Those who feel their prayers have gone unanswered will experience the promise that ““My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 As Christians we will trust more deeply in our God as we suffering and we will continue to be faithful to Him: “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” 1 Peter 4:19
Suffering always initiates the question of “Why?”. But before we do battle with they “why?” let’s begin to search for the “how?” How can I minister the grace of Jesus to those who are suffering? How can I make Jesus know to others through my suffering? How can I more fully know Jesus in my suffering?