You live in a terribly broken world. The evidence is all around you. Every day you awake to a world that is groaning, eagerly awaiting redemption (see Romans 8:18-23).
You probably don’t need me to remind you of this reality, but everybody hurts. If you’re not hurting now, you’ve hurt in the past. If you’re not hurting now, you’re near someone who is. And if you’re not hurting now, you will someday.
Therefore, in addition to being a creature and a sinner, we must embrace a third core aspect of what it means to be a human being.
Identity #3 - Sufferer
To pretend that suffering doesn’t exist or that you are immune to the effects of life in a broken world denies the reality of your circumstances. To act as if you have reached a level of spiritual maturity where suffering doesn’t shake you is both unhelpful and unbiblical.
The Christian faith never denies reality. On the contrary, the Word of God encourages us to deal with our suffering with shocking honesty.
We need to be honest about:
- How much the situations, locations, and relationships of life in a broken world can hurt
- The inclinations of our heart to respond with bitterness and vengeance instead of forgiveness
- Our doubts and questions regarding the wisdom, goodness, and sovereignty of God
- The desire to take life into our own hands and write our own set of rules
At the same time, that shocking honesty must be coupled with the glorious hope of the Gospel. Every sufferer needs to run toward the comfort of knowing that the One who rules over all things is a fellow sufferer.
He was tempted in all the same ways that you are (Hebrews 4:14–16). He understands the damage that suffering does. He is sympathetic to your situation, and he offers you mercies that are form-fit for your individual need.
And it really is true that he exercises his sovereign power for your good, even in those moments when what you’re going through doesn’t seem good at all (Ephesians 1:15–23).
He knows what it’s like to be hungry. He knows what it’s like to be homeless. He knows what it’s like to feel disliked and cast out. He knows what it’s like to suffer injustice. He knows what it’s like to be forsaken and betrayed by one’s closest companions.
In your travail he doesn’t look down on you; he will never mock you in your moment of need, and he doesn’t condemn you. Instead, he enters into your suffering with patient grace, faithful love, and life-altering wisdom.
So this week, as you experience life in a broken world, and as you comfort those who are suffering, remember: the Gospel is both shockingly honest and gloriously hopeful at the same time!
Paul David Tripp
- Are you suffering now? If not, have you suffered recently? Consider the spiritual battle that came with your suffering.
- During this suffering, did you attempt to deny reality in any way? Did you act with others as if your suffering wasn't affecting you as much as it was?
- Consider some of the ways that honesty is both biblical and healthy.
- Who do you know who is suffering right now? How can you encourage them to be honest, while comforting them with the hope of the Gospel?
- How can you relate more personally to Jesus as a fellow sufferer? How will this help your suffering, and help you as you encourage others in their suffering?