Putting our personal sufferings into context with God’s plan
Let’s set the record straight right from the start. As Christians, God does NOT want us to suffer! Having said that, we know He does want us to learn and grow and mature. This means he will permit us to suffer and will use it as a tool to serve our eternal welfare. Now, what about the rest of the suffering experienced by everyone else? The answer is essentially the same – it is part of the permission of evil, which will be an eternal lesson for all. While these are good lessons, how do we cope with our individual suffering here and now? There are two groups of people who are suffering that we want to talk to today. There are those who may know of and appreciate Jesus and there are those who have dedicated themselves to follow him as his disciples.
In Matthew 11:28 Jesus famously invites all who are "weary and heavy-laden" to come to him so he can give them rest. While this invitation is comforting and encouraging, understanding it requires a deeper look. The first thing we notice is that it is an open invitation. Jesus had just finished talking about how those with power and influence tended to reject his teaching and miracles. He thanked God that the beauty of the salvation he was bringing was so readily received by the everyday people.
I am exhausted!
To be weary and heavy-laden means you are exhausted and overburdened. This simple description fits so many of us here and now. Even though our world is amazingly advanced, stress and suffering are rampant.
-challenged with physical things like illness and aging
-burdened with financial stresses like job loss and too much month at the end of our money
-pressured with social conformity and political unrest
We face emotional traumas like broken families, severed relationships, and loneliness. Our struggles include psychological things like depression, anxiety, phobias and mental illness.
Because we know that our time in Christianity is not a time of healing, how can Jesus give us rest? What can he possibly do for us with physical healing off the table? Check out our May 3rd 2021 podcast, “Does God Really Want Me to Suffer?” for more. We look carefully into what Jesus can do for whom. The bottom line here is that there are two different answers as to what Jesus will do for us, depending on our relationship with him. In both cases, there is really good news.
So, does God REALLY want us to suffer? The answer is no! That being said, the next logical question is then why doesn't He take our suffering away? The responses here are bigger than a one or two-line explanation. More than that, they are very encouraging and uplifting as well. If you are suffering in any way and are looking to God and Jesus for relief, please join us for this important conversation. Seeing our suffering with biblical understanding can absolutely help us to cope!
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