Purpose in the Pain #1
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate.
When we enter into a personal relationship with Jesus and He gives us new life a process begins. It is known as the process of sanctification. Through the process of sanctification God is conforming us into the image and likeness of His Son Jesus. This is a process that God begins, is faithful to continue and completes when we breath our last breath and enter His presence.
“For or those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:29)
One of Gods primary purposes in our lives is to mold us and make us into the image and likeness of Jesus and the crucible of suffering is one of His many classrooms.
The great preacher, Charles Spurgeon speaks of the invaluable lessons learned through the crucible of suffering. His suffering was not only a persecution but various physical ailments which included the loss of his wife, a life long battle with depression.
“I am afraid that all the grace that I have got of my comfortable and easy times and happy hours, might almost lie on a penny. But the good that I have received from my sorrows, and pains, and grief’s, is altogether incalculable … Affliction is the best bit of furniture in my house. It is the best book in a minister’s library.” (“The Anguish and Agonies of Charles Spurgeon,” 25)
One of the primary roles of suffering in our lives is to be conformed into the image and likeness of Jesus. God is at work, carrying out His will in the pain making us and molding us into the image and likens of His Son.
Over the years I have experienced various types of suffering in my life. From the pain and dysfunction of growing up in an alcoholic home to the pain and suffering of my own addiction. I have tasted the deep waters of grief associated with transitions and death and faced the death sentence of my wife’s cancer. Beyond that I have experienced a garden variety of physical, emotional and spiritual pain. But perhaps the greatest time of suffering I experienced was the the 6 months my wife and I spent in the NICU watching our premature baby fight for her life. The pain and suffering I personally felt and experienced trumped every affliction I had ever experienced in my life to that point.
As I young believer I had been delivered from deaths door and experienced mental emotional, spiritual and physical healing in the name of Jesus. So I went into this storm believing my family and I would not suffer though others around me were suffering. I believed that Jesus would quickly strengthen Meagan’s (my daughters) premature body and we would walk out of there unscathed but that was not the case. We would enter into a six-month storm that would completely strip us of everything in us. As the seas were raging around us and we engaged in the greatest battle of our lives. I reached a place where I began to cry out to God. Where are you? What can this have to do with your will for my life? Where are You?
One morning He (God) spoke into the pain of that moment and said, “Peter everyday you suffer, you understand a little more what it means to be like me”
The circumstances didn’t change but my perspective did. In that moment I realized that God was in the pain and suffering. He was at work. Meagan’s suffering was not in vain. Even in the midst of her life bleeding out on a small warming table in the NICU, He was carrying out his will in our lives – conforming us into the image and likeness of Jesus.
You see I thought He would deliver instantaneously as He had done in other areas of my life. But He revealed to me through His word and through the circumstances that He is powerfully at work in the pain and suffering. In my deliverance from my addiction my eyes were opened to Jesus resurrection power but now we we’re learning to grow in the fellowship of His sufferings. A place where His resurrection power is equally reveled in the life of the believer.
Often as believers we cry out to Jesus, “Oh God make more like you”. My friends never forget to be like Jesus is to pass through the deep waters of suffering. You see when God entrusts you with suffering He is entrusting you with deep revelation of Himself – a revelation of His love, grace and power. Our understanding of God’s all sufficient love is deepened and widened as we learn to trust Him in the pain. These words, “every day you suffer is another day you know just a little bit more what it means to be like me” comforted me deeply. God reveled to me that He was in the suffering carrying out His plan in my life.
God is in the suffering just as much as He is in the Healing. He never promised that we will not suffer as believers in this life but He did promise that He will be with us in the fire and that a day will come when we will be delivered from these wretched bodies into a new resurrected body at which time we will be fully delivered – fully healed.
Here is the pure heart cry to be conformed into the image and likeness of Christ.
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11)
Whatever challenges and struggles that you face today or may come down the road you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is in it. One of the primary purposes of suffering is to be conformed into the image and likeness of Jesus. Suffering is one of God’s classrooms where He does some of his best work.
As believers our lives are completely transformed through suffering. As we yield ourselves to God in the storms of life He conforms us into the image of Jesus. Take heart and do not be discouraged. God is at work in and through your unique trials. There is purpose in the pain…
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