Five things to remember when you are suffering
The book of Romans can help you find peace in pain.
Following Jesus is a bit like learning martial arts - sometimes it's going to hurt. But there is a lot we can gain as we endure the pain.
In the book of Romans, Paul explains the following truths about the gospel:
- We were cut off from God’s favour and under his judgement.
- God acted in Christ, taking the punishment we deserve on himself in our place.
- We need only trust God and his chosen King, Jesus to be saved.
- We’re promised a share in God’s blessings if we trust him.
Now in Romans 5:1-11, Paul begins to show us what this all means, and how it applies to suffering.
1. Remember Jesus suffered for you
“While we were still weak, at the right time,” Christ died for us, “the ungodly” (5:6).
A person will rarely die to save another – even a ‘good’ person. But we lived our lives set against God, and still Jesus died for us (5:7-8).
2. Remember Jesus will return to judge the world, and will punish sins
There are all sorts of unjust reasons we can suffer in this life. But when Jesus returns, all wrongs will be made right. Those who trust him need not fear being condemned – we will be saved from God’s anger. We have the certain hope that he’ll raise us to life, and bring justice, so we rejoice! (5:11)
3. Remember you are no longer facing God’s anger
We have received grace from God (5:2). “Grace” is a tricky word that’s often misunderstood – it really means undeserved kindness. Therefore, God has been kind to us, even though we don’t deserve it, by forgiving our sins. In the middle of suffering, remember that even though we were such corrupted sinners, the Bible says we will share in perfect life with Jesus.
4. God has a purpose in your suffering
Through Jesus, we’ve been made God’s friends. We shouldn’t be dismayed by the sufferings of today; we, instead, rejoice in them. Our sufferings have a purpose: they teach us to endure. This endurance teaches us character, so we can stand tall in the face of suffering (5:4). This character makes us look to our eternal destination, focusing on the hope God has given us (5:4). And we can be sure that God will keep his promise (5:5).
5. Suffering can produce eternal good
Every Christian feels the ups and downs of life; emotions are no measure of your spiritual wellbeing (in fact, you should not judge your faith by your feelings). Suffering can make it hard to stand firm for Christ, but it should never stop you from telling others about him. If you’re having a hard time, pray about it, talk to mature Christians about it, pray with them, and read the Bible to remind yourself what you’re looking forward to. Don’t give up!
Pain in martial arts eventually leads to a black belt and some bragging rights; suffering in Christ leads to sharing in God’s glory, in a new creation, free of suffering and free of sin, forever. So rejoice in your sufferings and give glory to God!