Have you ever been in misery, anguish, distress, grief, or even agony? Strong cries toward God and tears to Him is appropriate when thinking of the One who was able to save us from death and provide so great a salvation. Tears are not disgraceful or shameful when they come from a heart of love for the One who suffered for us. The actions of Christ can never make us hard-hearted, but should lead us to more tender heartedness. Tears provide relief in times of suffering. Jesus wept in the garden and on the occasion of the death of a friend. This is a natural response of love.
Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. Hebrews 5:7-8
Though the Scripture does not state that these prayers were from the Gethsemane event, the deep cries and tears of Jesus seem to point to that moment. In Matthew 26:38, Jesus said, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” Then we see, “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). In Luke 22:44 the Scripture reveals the anguish of Jesus when it states, “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Imagine, Jesus bled, and died, and suffered for us!
Jesus learned through suffering, but it was a purpose in the will of God. God’s Spirit leads us in the will of God. Jesus knew He was going to the cross. His purpose was to save us from our sin. Our purpose is the Great Commission. Acts 1:2 reveals, “until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen.” What commandment? The Great commission. Suffering will be involved in carrying out that command.
Trials Bring Suffering
The trial is the action and suffering is the response. Persecutions bring suffering. But obedience also brings suffering.
But Jesus was different from us in that He did not have to turn from disobedience to obedience. There is much disobedience among people. Obedience leads people into suffering. We have to repent of disobedience to learn obedience. But not so with Jesus. He simply showed us the way of obedience through a close connection with God in prayer. His obedience to God came in the deepest moments of suffering. While He suffered, He learned as a human how to obey God in the deepest and darkest moments. The life of Christ is a life of prayer. A life of obedience follows the purpose that He was called to follow.
While our call is to make disciples, it is God who gives us power for our purpose and His will. If you go through a trial and it is leading you to His purpose, you know the trial is to deepen your love and obedience to God. If you didn’t know it is God’s purpose, you would not have the patience to see it through. The love of God carries you through. The trial produces the patience to follow God’s purpose. Living in His Will is what is so valuable. Christ’s divineness was laid aside and His sorrow was a human response, but His sorrow was not sin. We need patience in suffering like Jesus’ example. If you are suffering but you don’t endure, you fail the test. It will become sin.
Jacob suffered and worked for seven years to gain Rachel as his wife. Many would grow weary in this suffering. But the Scripture says, “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her” (Genesis 29:20). There is the answer to enduring suffering. It is love! God’s love will, “direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5). Wouldn’t you rather suffer for development into a deeper walk with God than suffer because of your sin?
Jesus walked through life unaffected by everybody’s opinions, even though many times their attitudes, speech, and opinions were to hurt Him. Obedience to God’s Will took Him through every trial, test, or persecution that came upon Him. Do you want to be more like Jesus? Then you will also learn obedience through that which you suffer.
Focus on Self
Self has no interest in suffering. Self sees no purpose in suffering. But, self also never seems to learn valuable life lessons. When you lay self aside and take on obedience to Christ, you realize that suffering is worth the value you receive from deepening your relationship to Christ. While suffering is not easy, or fun, knowing God is worth the trials and tests. If you focus on the One you love, then the trials do not seem so intense and are short lived.
© Copyright 2019, Think LifeChange Institute of Biblical Counseling, All Rights Reserved. Kerry L. Skinner and Alison Veazey