Jesus said, “How blessed you are whenever people heap insults on you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you, telling lies because you are associated with me.”
— Matthew 5:11 (USC)
Purpose is the meaning of life; there is no meaning without a purpose. With a purpose anything may be endured. But without purpose nothing is reasonably achieved or even bearable.
A woman can survive the pain of childbirth and be at once at bliss when she first claps eyes on her newborn. She has an all-sufficient purpose, despite the unspeakable pain. Not only does she long to meet her offspring, she must deliver the baby or die.
Suffering isn’t truly the point if there is purpose encapsulating it. Purpose provides hope.
But if our purpose flails wistfully without meaning, our suffering – as it is pummelled by the vigorous bullying breezes as they toss us – has no moral rudder. Such suffering is sorrowfully lamentable.
When we suffer for having stood for a purpose – and there is no greater purpose than Christ crucified, ascended, and glorified through us – the suffering has had meaning. We may become more, not less, entrenched in stoic dogma for what we suffer that is wringing wet with hope. This is a great paradox.
The woman in childbirth is in a no-option situation. Much was it alike when those who went off to fight in foreign wars.
None of us enjoy pain, but we are just as equally adept at helping each other pave our collective weight out of it.
It’s better to experience the full Christian life, for the glory of God, with all its heartaches and challenge, because it has meaning, than shrink back to a safe and predictable life in the comfort zone.
It’s no benefit to ourselves, others or God if we do not suffer, and, because the world is a place where suffering belongs, God has found a way for us to transcend the felt pain of suffering, though we are ever vulnerable.
Suffering for Christ might sound cliché but in practical terms it’s rare and it’s equally important to recognise it from where it is and from where we may purpose it.
Imagine wanting our own lives to be poured out if that’s what we discerned our lives to be. Imagine giving everything up and walking away. Life is fragile. Only when we have lost the lot do we truly value what is centrally important – nothing we can see.
We honour God by the way we receive that which we have suffered.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. How can a wise and all-loving Saviour say such things in Matthew 5:11?
2. What would you say or do to encourage stoicism in someone when they are suffering?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.