Romans 8:16-17 – The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
When we are suffering, we can easily rush to the wrong conclusion that God does not love us and is punishing and condemning us. Paul’s entire argument in Romans 8 is that this is not the case as there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, but there is suffering for those who are in Christ. Therefore, our suffering cannot be evidence of God condemning us.
Jesus Christ Himself also suffered and, when we suffer, we receive 6 benefits when we suffer in Christ, like Christ, with Christ, and for Christ:
- We learn to appreciate the suffering we have caused Jesus. Jesus suffered for your sin and, when you suffer, it is good to remind ourselves of how He loved us enough to suffer for us.
- We learn to appreciate the suffering we have caused others. Some people seem to be born with innate empathy and compassion. For most of us, we are so selfish and consumed with ourselves that we do not much consider the needs of others. Suffering can be a wonderful opportunity to open our eyes to other hurting people so that we can minister to them in their suffering.
- We prepare for coming hardship. Any parent who keeps their child from suffering is not preparing them for life. Today’s suffering is a class to teach us lessons for tomorrow’s suffering. Like any school, unless you learn the lessons in one grade you are not ready for the next grade.
- We cultivate eternal character. When Hebrews says that Jesus was made perfect through His suffering (Hebrews 2:10), it means that, although His character was perfect and without sin, His character was deepened through suffering. There are things you cannot learn in a book because you must experience them in life, and it is those life lessons in the school of suffering that the Spirit uses to form character that endures forever.
- We invest in eternal rewards. Most people fret about their retirement and making sound financial investments for the end of their life. While this is good, what is even more important is making sound spiritual investments for our eternal life. When Jesus said we should store up our treasures on heaven and not on earth, He was saying that we cannot take some things with us, but we can send them ahead – like eternal rewards that come through faithful suffering.
- We receive more anointing of the Spirit. Most honest Christians would say they want more anointing from the Spirit, but less suffering in their lives. The Spirit comes to empower us according to our need, which is why the people who have endured the most painful suffering also have the most powerful anointing. This is true of Jesus who has both the most suffering and anointing.
Which of these 6 things is God teaching you most clearly in this season of your life?
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