The Windows of Suffering

“Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised… When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and praised God and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” Matthew 27:51-52,54; Luke 23:46-47

“I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” Philippians 3:8-10

Physical, emotional, and soul suffering open many windows. We see through them the sufferings of Christ, the victories of Christ, and the fellowship of our suffering with him. There is a mysterious and exquisite beauty in watching another in Christ endure with grace and unflappable faith- we glimpse the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus, we sense the rumble of resurrection power, we gaze through the rent veil of pain and say, Truly this is the Son of God! Christ in them, Christ in us, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)

Suffering also may expose areas of our hearts we do not like. It can reveal impatience, stubborn self-determination, and pride that erupt when pain presses hard. But the suffering of Christ Jesus appropriated there transforms and restores. He touches the agonies, applies His It is finished!, and draws us alongside to learn the meaning of the cross. Ex-cruciating, ‘out of the cross.’ He died for all of this, and arose to assure hope of ultimate restoration. Will we allow Him to have His way? (John 19:28-30)

Nothing we suffer is a surprise to God. Our ability to endure is a gift from His Spirit. He wastes no suffering, instead working in and through us love and character and hope that are pleasing to Him. This is a gracious thing. Can we step back to see God’s broad perspective on what is to us now all-consuming, and say Truly, this is the Son of God, teaching me what it is to hope by knowing the power of the resurrection? (Psalm 42:3-9; Romans 5:3-5; Hebrews 13:20-21; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 2:19)

Would we open the window of our heart and allow Jesus to flood in with His love and light? Sharing in His sufferings brings a communion with the Divine that is inexplicable, and precious. Would we trust Him to bloom radiant beauty from the deepest pain and sadness, spilling blossoms that cause others to say, Truly this is the Son of God!?

Father, for those I love who suffer, help them endure with hope. And Jesus, in any suffering You call me to share, may others see that You, the Son of God, are glorified. (2 Corinthians 4:16–18)

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