Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered. Hebrews 5, verse 8.
Suffering teaches you obedience. When you lose your job, you immediately look for ways to both gain new employment and reduce expenses until you do. When you are in physical pain, you surrender your abilities to do certain things until that pain is relieved. When you lose something, make a bad choice, are in danger, commit a secret wrong, or do any other kind of thing that produces suffering, you immediately know it. You react to the thing that causes you to suffer. In short, you obey whatever is made necessary to alleviate the suffering.
Suffering is one of God’s means of grace. Huh? God imparts His grace through suffering? You bet He does. Consider Romans 5: “not only so but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” God uses our suffering as a way to both tear us down and build us up. He teaches us lessons that, in a non-suffering state, we might not absorb in meaningful ways. In doing this, He teaches us to endure the bad for the outcome that can be good. In that endurance, we receive character and hope. I’d submit, as well, that the hope of which Romans 5 speaks isn’t a wish, either. It’s a sure promise of God’s blessing.
And when you’re suffering, it’s ok to cry out. It’s ok to cry, scream, hurt, vent, anguish. Jesus did. He vented righteous anger against wrongdoing in His ministry. And, in true agony on the cross, He cried and screamed in pain. We have all heard how people who are depressed or suicidal will find ways to cry out for help. The message from Scripture is “you should!” It’s a healthy thing to let the world know you’re in pain. Maybe the world will help.
Or maybe not. In Jesus’ case, you know the scoop. We’ve already seen how Jesus ‘got to’ do the things He did, how He is a priest forever like the legendary Melchizidek. Wrapped up in that is the fact that Jesus ‘got to’ die on the cross. He genuinely suffered a torturous death that you and I can only imagine. He who was fully man and fully God at the same time got to endure the physical mutilation of scourging and crucifixion as well as the emotional torture of rejection. And as if that wasn’t enough (and it wasn’t), in a mystery we don’t fully understand, He who was fully man and fully God at all times got to endure the spiritual abandonment of the Father while at the same time remaining fully part of Him. He did it alone, and together, and because we couldn’t.
Whether we like it or not, we also ‘get to’ endure our suffering, allowing that which could defeat us to, instead, transform us by stripping away some traits while replacing them with others. Yet God doesn’t abandon us even when we find it hard to see Him. You know this deep inside. Don’t let suffering rob you of that knowledge.
So what was it that Jesus was obeying? You know the answer to that as well. He obeyed God’s will. In reality, doesn’t everything (at least indirectly) obey God’s will? If God uses all the world’s sins in ways that result in good for His kingdom, doesn’t this mean that everything is subject to God’s will? Of course everything is subject to God’s will, His patient and perfect will. Believe it or not, God doesn’t will for us to suffer needlessly. Read the verses below and understand that Jesus’ suffering as well as that of the believer can build others up while giving us the courage that’s needed to see the thing through.
Neither you nor I wants to suffer. We hate hurting and we hate it when others around us, especially loved ones, hurt. We weren’t made for hurting and suffering, but those are two consequences of sin in our world. How good it is to know that God is with us through all of it.
For more reading: Romans 5:3-5, Luke 22: 41-44, Matthew 27: 46-50, Luke 23:46, Psalm 22:24, Mark 14:36.
Lord God, transform my suffering into perseverance and let it bring glory to You and lessons for myself and others. Help me to reject hurt and bitterness.