Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12)
Suffering is shocking like getting t-boned by a truck. You cruise along in life and then BAM! – everything turns upside down in a painful blur.
Your child is diagnosed with cancer.
Your grandpa passes away.
You get fired.
You are betrayed.
Our bodies naturally try to find balance. It’s called homeostasis. When faced with external changes, the body tries to upregulate or downregulate temperature and normalize the environment inside us so we can continue living.
Our souls do the same thing.
We want to calm the waters within. That’s why some people drink after work or eat a gallon of Blue Bell or play video games or watch endless tv. We think these distractions will calm the internal storm, but it never works. The thunder still rolls.
We are made for another world, and it isn’t this one. We long for heaven because it’s our true home. That’s why when things break – and sometimes by our own doing – we are bewildered. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
This world works a certain way – namely, by God’s design. I know this is counterintuitive, but suffering produces hope after the smoke clears. Suffering brings reality to the surface, and this is why people on their death beds speak with eerie clarity.
Suffering is not senseless, it is purifying.
We should not celebrate our pain and suffering, but we must deal with suffering – all of us. The way to do this is rather simple: expect it and rely upon the Lord for deliverance when it comes. Deliverance does not mean anyone will get well or the marriage will mend. Deliverance through suffering means – in this context – that God will walk through the fire with us and provide his grace. We will learn from suffering. We will become wiser. And if our suffering ultimately kills us, if we are in Christ, it will lead us home to the arms of Jesus. Because of the work of Jesus on the cross, we’re rather indestructible, eternally speaking.
Do not be surprised, friends.