Over the summer we have spent our Sundays thinking about fruitfulness, and how we can try to live more fruitful lives for God across a number of circumstances in our lives.
All of us will experience suffering in different ways throughout our lives. I think there are a lot of specific ways that living through periods of suffering can increase our fruitfulness and grow our characters to be more like Christ.
There are so many ways I have noticed this through different periods of suffering that it is hard to narrow it down to just a few things! But here are some that have stood out recently and that I have been thinking over through this sermon series:
Suffering Increases Thankfulness
Suffering often involves loss: loss of loved ones, health, freedom, security, and many other things. As we deal with the hardship of experiencing any kind of loss, we are reminded of how little control we have over our lives. Sometimes we can try as hard as we can to hold onto the things that feel so valuable to us, but we still end up unable to. This reveals the fruitlessness of trying to keep control of our lives and points us towards who is really in control.
In this, we are given an opportunity to reflect on all the ways that God has blessed us that we may have taken for granted before. We are more able to see how God provides things we may not have previously noticed. For example, I am so much more thankful for the way God sustains my body now that my physical ability is limited, and I hardly would have thought about it before.
When struggling with loss, whatever kind, look at all the ways God has blessed you and let that increase your thankfulness and praise of Him.
Suffering Reveals Sin
When suffering puts us into dark places and gives us strong emotions to deal with, our instinct is to seek comfort. This shows us where we are inclined to turn in the hardest times.
Suffering reveals the fruitlessness of our sin — it cannot save us and does not bring fulfilment. Sinful habits that may creep along in our day-to-day life are exposed in times suffering, which allows us to notice them, and tells us go to God in repentance for valuing those things too highly. It shows us the places where we are not trusting God and reminds us to look to him in times of darkness when we are tempted to look away.
Suffering Points Us to Heaven
Dealing with pain in our lives reminds us that we are not made for this world. Things that come to mind when we think about the New Creation are that we will not experience pain, there will be no more tears.
This can give us great comfort in hard times, but these are not the only beautiful things we have to look forward to. Our relationship with God will be fully restored, our communication with Him will be perfect, and the sin that causes us to suffer will be gone.
Take time to praise God for this truth. Take your pain and look forward to a world where it will be out of sight, and think of the beautiful parts of this world and imagine how much greater they will be in the perfect New Creation.
It is hard to think about suffering in this way, at times it can be all consuming and we can struggle to lift our heads and hearts to the One who loves us. If that’s you at the moment please know that you are greatly loved by God and your church family. Please reach out to one of the Elders or The Globe Church Staff Team, if you would value support or prayer.
Be encouraged that wherever you are in your life, and however you experience suffering, that God is at work in you to make you grow more like Jesus.