Who, besides the masochists of the world, likes to suffer? No one, that’s who. What benefit is there to suffering? None, that’s what. Who in their right mind takes anything but a dim view of suffering? Christians, that’s who…
The reason why people hate suffering is because it intrudes on our joy. Who celebrates the loss of jobs, the loss of loved ones, the loss of one’s ability to do things, the inability to bear children, the loss of good health, the loss of financial stability, the effects of natural disasters and injustices, and the list goes on.
Whereas many pursue deliverance from the ravages of pain and suffering, healings and miraculous removal of trials is not the main Christian answer to suffering. They are to be valued for they tell us that God is alive, active, attentive and all-powerful and that they have, at least, eliminated suffering for one of the brethren.
The problem with seeking miraculous deliverance from God in the midst of trial is that it only deals with the singular suffering, which exists because of that particular trial. It does not do away with suffering altogether. The intruder of joy will come again, and again, and again. It is because of the human condition (I am indebted to my seminary professor, Lewis Smedes for this understanding).
Let me share with you the seven reasons that give the intruder of joy meaning from
2 Corinthians 1:3-11.
- Suffering gets our attention (verse 3-4). C.S. Lewis wrote: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
- Suffering allows us to be strengthened by God (verse 4). Lewis Smedes: “
- Suffering allows us to comfort others (verse 4). Joni Eareckson Tada: “Suffering. Oh, God, thank you. Suffering has made me a lot more sensitive to people who are hurting.”
- Suffering allows us to build community (verse 8). Lewis Smedes wrote: “Community is not just a place for the suffering to find comfort but for the comfortable to find suffering.”
- Suffering allows us to trust and depend on God (verse 9). Joni Eareckson Tada: “Hardships have forced me to make decisions about God. Ah, this wheelchair has made muscular my faith. I can believe him more now than I did before the accident.”
- Suffering allows us to experience God’s deliverance (verse 10). Job wrote: “He delivers the afflicted in their affliction, and opens their ear in time of oppression.”
- Suffering allows us to build a prayer life (verse 11). Nothing drives us to our knees better than suffering.
One final thought about the intruder of joy. In the world, there is a whole lot of suffering. But, remember, in the same world, there is a whole lot of recovering, thanks be to God.
Something to think about…