My family and I are slowly walking towards a season of suffering. Well, mostly walking, some days it feels more like being dragged. We signed up for foster care knowing it would be hard. We are walking into that reality fully aware that we will suffer and that God will use it for great things.
Unexpectedly, we are also going to be walking into a journey of cancer. Again. My sweet nephew Noah has been battling Leukemia for quite some time. And now, for a second time, my Mother had to call her children and tell them, “I have breast cancer. And this time it does not look good.” After that phone call the new reality felt overwhelming. The tasks at hand felt overwhelming. I did not really know what to do other than cry out to God. So that is what I did.
“In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.” Psalms 18:6
And just like that, God led me to the book of Hebrews and the suffering of Christ! It says in Hebrews 2:10: “For it was fitting for him, for whom all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain (originator) of their salvation perfect through suffering.”
You may ask how a perfect savior needed perfecting, but the reality is His divine nature was very much perfect! His human side however, was very much human. His divine nature understood that His human side needed to be perfected. His human side needed to be obedient in suffering. Christ became obedient literally to the point of death. (Philippians 2:8) And why did He humble himself through such sufferings and temptations? He did this because it was the only way that we could be saved. Jesus Christ lived a perfect and humble life, submitting His divine nature to the will of God the Father and walking this earth in the form of a man scorned and rejected. He did this all for one purpose alone, to die. Our Savior understands what it means to suffer. Hebrews goes on to say:
“Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who is able to save him from death and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” Hebrews 5:7-9
Did you ever think about why we walk through trials? Why do we suffer with things like cancer? It is helpful to look at our hardships through the filter of Christ. Our trials are opportunities. In Colossians 1:24 Paul says that he rejoices in his sufferings. Why would he say such a thing? He rejoices because it is through his suffering that he is able to show the Gospel! It is through our broken bodies and broken hearts that the hope of salvation shines through.
Some of us are called by God to suffer, but suffering is not purposeless. God uses it! We, through our sufferings, are being perfected in Christ Jesus and showing others Christ in us. “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.” Colossians 1:28-29