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veryone suffers. It is an inescapable  confirms that not all trials are the result of
              part of life in a fallen world. C.S.  personal sin, notwithstanding the relent-
        ELewis said it well: “Try to exclude  less accusations of his friends. We tend to
        the possibility of suffering which the order  obsess over what personal failings may be
        of nature and the existence of free-wills in-  the reason for our suffering. However, it’s
        volve, and you find that you have excluded  more important to see suffering’s potential
        life itself.”                        than to determine its cause.
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          Some of us suffer very little, while others   Third, suffering may achieve a purpose for
        are called to weather nearly unbearable  someone other than yourself. It may accom-
        storms. Suffering may be primarily physi-  plish a refining work in our own lives,
        cal, but emotional and mental anguish are  removing the dross of selfishness or other
        every bit as real, arduous and debilitat-  impurities. But a look at the cross teaches
        ing. What can make suffering particularly  us that our pain may realize a purpose for
        intolerable is the absence of anyone who  others. Indeed, Christ “suffered for us” and
        understands. But we are never without  we were healed by His stripes (1Pe 2:21,24).
        Someone who understands (Heb 4:15; 1Pe  The experience of Joseph, whose suffering
        2:21-24). A look at the Ultimate Sufferer,  extended over many years, reminds us that
        our Lord Jesus Christ, not only confirms  personal hardship may lead to the blessing
        that He knows our pain, but teaches us  of others. His rise to power from prison
        what we can know about it. Perhaps these  saved not only his family but the nation of
        reminders may help to make our suffering  Egypt and other hungry souls who came
        more bearable.                       to him. Also, we may wonder how many
          For one, a call to suffer does not mean we  soldiers chained to Paul during his painful
        are not loved. The Father’s love for the Son  imprisonment experienced the liberating
        is eternal (Joh 17:24), and although that  power of the gospel as he faithfully wit-
        love was verbally expressed at particular  nessed to them.
        points in the life of Christ (Mat 3:17; 17:5),   A final reminder is that glory will always
        there was no point within that life where  follow suffering that is in God’s will (2Ti 2:12).
        His Father’s love ceased. Even while endur-  We may suffer when we are out of God’s
        ing the excruciating pain of Calvary, Jesus  will. Suffering in itself does not lead to
        never questioned the love of His Father.  glory. But Jesus’ suffering did, for He al-
        Nor should we. He loves us no less when  ways did the will of His Father. The pain
        we suffer.                           of Good Friday led to the glory of Easter
          Second, suffering is not necessarily punish-  Sunday. Glory awaits us also and “the suf-
        ment for our failures. It can be (Hebrews 12),  ferings of this present time are not worthy
        but a look at the cross tells us that it might  to be compared with the glory which shall
        not be. Christ’s suffering was for our sins,  be revealed in us” (Rom 8:18 KJV). So let
        being sinless Himself. Even the life of Job  us keep our eyes on the Ultimate Sufferer
        ¹ C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York, NY:   and take heart from lessons learned at the
        Macmillan, 1944).                    foot of His cross.

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