Christian, You Are Not Suffering Alone

Image: Tamasin Warnock

There is something inherently lonely about suffering. As much as others try to be empathetic, they cannot fully understand. Your own suffering is unique to you, even if it does have similarities to others.

One of the dangers of social media like Facebook is that if you are having a difficult time, the lives of others can seem perfect, and you can convince yourself they have no problems to face. As I said in my last post, however, the truth is that EVERYBODY does experience suffering of different kinds of sufferings at different times.

Knowing that you are part of a suffering community can be encouraging. But what is more encouraging still is knowing that you are still a child of God, and that he has made certain promises to you.  I wanted to share with you today one promise that I have come back to time and again in the last 18 months since a friend sent me these words as a form of prophetic encouragement:

…the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Peter 5:9-10)

Lets begin to focus on some of the key words in these verses.

  • ‘the same kinds of suffering’ Honestly, its true.  And one thing that I found particularly important to cling onto as I lay in hospital with pneumonia, was how fortunate I was. I kept thinking of others who had experienced similar things to me, but to a much greater extent. It is true that I was the sickest I have ever been. But I tried not to allow myself to feel too sorry for myself, but to be grateful that I had escaped such suffering till now, and that I was still being spared from far worse.
  • ‘a little while’  Time can seem to stand still when you are really suffering. I know I lost track of time altogether. Hours merged into days and weeks. And I am still nothing like as strong as I was pre-pneumonia several months later. Its easy to get frustrated, and discouraged, and to think that it will never end. But, get some perspective, I tell myself.  Even measuring time by comparing it to my lifespan, this has been just a little time. And just knowing that whatever suffering you are going through comes with an expiry date is incredibly encouraging. For the Christian, even if ‘a little while’ means for the rest of our natural life, our Christian hope is that we will have an eternity to appreciate that our troubles really were “light and momentary” and that in some mysterious way our troubles play a role in producing for us “an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17)
  • The God of all grace’ This means that God isn’t sitting in heaven weighing up how well you are doing to determine how much he will bless you. He is not ‘part grace’ and ‘mostly law’.  He has determined that he WILL bless you not because of what you have done, but because he has decided to do it because he loves you!  This is an amazing truth when you find yourself unable to do what you used to do ‘for’ God (as though he needed anything!).  You can come to him confident, no matter what you have done, that he remains full of Grace to cover you.
  • ‘Called you to his eternal glory in Christ’  As we have already alluded, there is an eternal glory coming. There really is a day when all our troubles will be wiped away.

This passage also gives us hope I believe for the present, as it ends in a string of one-word promises of what God will do for us. But, that should be the subject of another article, since, as I like to imagine it, you may have just about finished that coffee you made for yourself just before you started to read these words.  I hope this has been as encouraging for you to read as it was for me to write. God’s Word really is full of gems that he left to bless us and lift us up!

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