Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8)
Oh, beloved, as a pastor who deals with suffering on a regular basis, I will never, even for a moment, minimize its presence and its pain. But we who are sinful, both by nature and by habit, must be ready to receive what our sinless Savior received on our behalf—suffering—which is used by God to sanctify us and make us more like our Savior.
Far too many Christians are surprised by the waves of challenge that wash over them, leaving behind the sands of suffering upon which they now must walk. I can’t fully explain why they feel this way, for the Bible promises that we must pass through many trials on our way to glory. What crown of comfort and ease should we expect to receive on this side of the grave, when our sinless Savior received a crown of thorns pressed cruelly into His precious brow?
If Jesus had to pass through the seas of suffering during His time on earth, then should we, His loyal subjects, expect that we will ride the crest of the waves throughout our lives, unaffected by the storm winds that blow? No, no, and a thousand times No! The Captain of our salvation learned obedience from what He suffered, and we too must learn obedience through suffering. Even if we could escape suffering, God forbid that we would ever spend our energy doing it! Suffering is the servant of our Savior, and it is sent our way to shape us into His likeness. Our Prince endured suffering and pain in order to accomplish God’s perfect purpose; you and I can be assured that there is purpose in every painful providence we experience.
Remember that we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with us, who never left the glory and comfort of heaven. No, our Lord stepped down from His throne and willingly placed Himself into the hands of sinful men to be nailed to a cross in order to pay the penalty of our sins. He who knew no sin because sin for us and suffered unimaginable agony during those dark hours on the cross, crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The answer to Christ’s anguished cry, of course, is because of infinite, eternal love that would not be denied the object of its affection—sinners like you and me who are all in desperate need of a Savior.
I don’t know what storms winds you are dealing with today, but let me encourage you that the apostles rejoiced to be counted worthy to suffer for the sake of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Should this not be our testimony also? It can and it must be so, for we have a High Priest who not only sympathizes with us, but is right there with us in the middle of our suffering.
Never forget that three men were thrown into the fiery furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar, but four were seen in the flames; that fourth man was none other than the Son of God. He walked with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego millennia ago, and He is walking by your side today.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!