"Perfect suffering"

"Prosperity preachers don't last long in countries where there is persecution. They usually just leave." That quote by Ajith Fernando from his book The Call to Joy and Pain captures two realities of the Christian faith: (1) Jesus suffered; (2) those who believe in Him will suffer too.

Unlike "health and wealth" false teachers, Jesus taught that suffering was something God uses for our good. In Hebrews 2:10, the writer states that Jesus became "through His suffering, a perfect leader." This doesn't mean that Jesus wasn't already perfect, for He is God the Son. It does point out, however, that death allowed Him to intimately know the final stage of human experience, giving Him an even more perfect ability to identify with our struggles (5:8).

The apostle Paul experienced the perfecting process of pain. He prayed three times for God to remove something that was tormenting him. But God allowed it to persist, saying, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul's response? "That's why I take pleasure in . . . [suffering] for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (v.10).

Jesus is able to identify with us and help us because of the hardships He endured. "Since He Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested" (Hebrews 2:18). He "understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do" (4:15).

Are you experiencing suffering? Don't fight against it as one who has no hope. Don't believe the lies of false teachers who wrongly say, "You simply need more faith to overcome your struggles."

Instead, embrace your suffering as a gift from God, being used to perfect you and your faith in Him (12:2). , Tom Felten, Our Daily Jounrey

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