Most cultures—unlike our own—expect suffering as inevitable and see it as a means of strengthening and enriching us. Our secular culture, on the other hand, is perhaps the worst in history at helping its members face suffering. Every other culture says the meaning of life is something beyond this world and life. It may be (a) going to heaven to live with God and your loved ones forever; (b) escaping the cycle of reincarnation in order to enter eternal bliss; (c) escaping the illusion of the world to go into the all-Soul of the universe; (d) living a moral, virtuous, honorable life even in the face of defeat and doom; or (e) living on in your family and descendants. In each case suffering, though painful, can actually help you reach your life goal and complete your life story.

But in secular culture the meaning of life is to be free to choose what makes you happy in this life. Suffering destroys that meaning. And so, in the secular view, suffering can have no meaning at all. It can’t be a chapter in your life story—it is just the interruption or even the end of your life story.

Secularism sees suffering as completely useless, while many ancient religions see suffering as useful to your character growth and spiritual attainments. While Christianity certainly acknowledges the outrageous, mysterious injustice of much suffering (as does the West)—and while it also points to the ways it serves as a “gymnasium” to help us grow stronger spiritually (as does the East)—I don’t think the Bible sees the main use of suffering to be our benefit. I think the main reason we should be patient under suffering is that it glorifies God and that, for Christians, doing so is our greatest pleasure and duty. When we endure suffering with all the patience we can muster, we treat God as God, and that glorifies him, regardless of any other results we can discern.

It fits to glorify God — it not only fits reality, because God is infinitely and supremely praiseworthy, but it fits us as nothing else does. All the beauty we have looked for in art or faces or places — and all the love we have looked for in the arms of other people — is only fully present in God himself. And so in every action by which we treat him as glorious as he is, whether through prayer, singing, trusting, obeying, or hoping, we are at once giving God his due and fulfilling our own design.

Tim Keller

Read 1 Peter 4:1-6. Are you willing to suffer for doing good? Especially when the world around you pressures you to pursue the desires of the flesh? In those moments, how can the sufferings of Christ for you be an encouragement to be your willingness to suffer?

Christ Is Enough by Hillsong

Posted on: January 12, 2017 - 10:00PM

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