When you are a Christian, when you have invited the Lord and his word to be a living, breathing, part of your life, you not only experience the peace and comfort He promises during suffering, but you know the end of the story.
The end of the story is important. But first, the beginning of the story.
The world is enslaved to sin.
When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.
We can see the affects all around us. Rust, corrosion, moth eaten, disease, pain, death.
Yet, Emmanuel – God with us. God reveals His presence all around us. In the midst of disatrous and destructive life experiences, we still smile at breath-taking sunsets and the fresh, green buds of spring.
The world is not detached from God. He is with us in our suffering. He promises never to leave us.
We won’t understand everything in the Bible but we understand enough. I don’t know why some suffer more than others. In my own suffering, I said, “How can I hurt so bad but love God even more?”
It was because I had experienced his closeness to me. No earthly power or distraction would have sufficed. Suffering allows us to feel God’s presence and connects us with Him in ways we wouldn’t have known otherwise. Could this be part of why we suffer?
For now, we don’t understand suffering. It seems at odds with a loving God.
But we do know the end of the story.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
For centuries, the end the story has brought comfort to those who have suffered.
The Apostle Paul, who suffered in ways foreign to many of us, said this:
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
The world offers numerous ways to bring happiness and comfort. Some good. Some bad. But all is temporary.
Only God gives us exactly what we need. And He gives us the patience to endure
… until the end of the story.