The Church suffers. Every day, Christians suffer. It seems at times relentless. It is so often an experience accompanied by perplexing, agonising thoughts about God.
But for the Christian, we must get an eternal perspective on suffering.
In 2 Cotinthians 4:17, Paul expresses this thought:
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…
I’ve often wondered about this, and today I was brought back to Philippians 3 – the passage about becoming like Christ in his death, having fellowship in his sufferings.
The incredible truth is, for Christians, our experience of pain is only ever limited to a few years in this world. ETERNALLY. We will never again be able to experience suffering. Never again will we be able to taste that bitter anguish, not just of physical and mental illness, but of emotional disjunction – of betrayal, abuse or neglect.
And yet, Paul describes these things as a fellowship with Christ. In these horrible experiences, we taste just a fraction of the experience of Jesus – our experiences today taking us back into the days of the Messiah (in a way, like David’s experiences, penned in the Psalms gave him a foretaste of the Messiah’s work).
And ETERNALLY, for the whole of everlasting life in the resurrection, these few years of pain will be our only first-hand access into grasping the Messiah’s pain for us. Little wonder Paul says it is preparing an eternal weight of glory – in insight of these painful years turned, in the power of the resurrection, not just into a memory, but into a dynamo of everlasting awe and worship.
That pain WILL morph into singing.
It doesn’t take the pain away, but it does mean we do not lose hope.