It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him. (Philippians 1:29)
It is only natural for human beings to do everything within our power to avoid pain. Only a crazy person seeks out painful experiences in life. But when we realize that God is in our pain, we begin to understand one of the deepest truths that the Bible presents to us: Pain is profitable.
Nothing illustrates this more powerfully than the cross of Christ. The six hours of pain that Jesus endured on the cross defies human description. The physical agony of crucifixion is insignificant compared to the horror of experiencing the wrath of God: “He made him who knew no sin to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus endured the infinite wrath and judgment of God in our place as He hung on our cross. During the three hours of supernatural darkness that fell across the land, our Lord Jesus endured the unimaginable God-forsakenness of hell itself. And when Jesus knew that He had paid the penalty for our sins in full, satisfying completely the wrath and judgment of God and securing eternal life for us, He uttered His triumphant victory cry: “It is finished” (John 19:30).
We cannot comprehend the divine mystery of the pain Jesus endured on that cross on Good Friday a little more than 2,000 years ago, but we can comprehend this: Knowing that His pain paid the full penalty for the forgiveness of our sins — all our sins — means there is profit in pain. When we read Paul’s statement that those who believe in Jesus will suffer for Him, we can be assured that God has a perfect plan for us to profit from every painful providence we experience on this side of the grave.
Christian, every one of the painful providences you have experienced in your life was divinely designed and delivered for your good. You and I must understand this truth and live in the light of it each day. For far too many, painful experiences in life make them bitter, not better. They wallow in self-pity rather than shine with selfless love for their Savior. Others see the painful experiences in life as something to endure and get past as quickly as possible. But those who view life this way are missing the glorious, God-ordained truth that even this — our pain — is for our profit.
When Jesus said we will have trouble in this world (John 16:33), He was preparing us for those inevitable painful experiences that will come our way, but He was also teaching us to remember that, because He is always with us is in those experiences (Hebrews 13:5), there is good that will be gained from them . . . even though they certainly do not feel good at the time!
One final point: Jesus didn’t just promise us painful providences; He also promised His peace in them and through them. “Take heart!” He assures us. “I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Nothing happens to us that doesn’t first pass through His nail-scarred hands, and because of this truth, we can be assured there is profit in our pain, conforming us more and more into the image and likeness of our Lord, who endured a pain we will never have to experience in both life and death, so that we can have eternal life with Him.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!