When Suffering Comes...
Coffee With God: 8/31/2023 | Psalm 69:6-8
Psalm 69:6-8 “Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord God of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. 7 For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that dishonor has covered my face. 8 I have become a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my mother’s sons.”
I’ll never forget the first time I experienced pain because of my faith in Jesus.
I was 16 years old and just starting to live out my faith in Christ. Jesus was beginning to make himself real to me, and I was excited and wanted to share him with others.
I was with a good friend of mine at a park near my house in the town where I grew up. We were alone, sitting at a picnic table, reading the Bible together. Suddenly, someone we knew came walking down the bike path with a basketball and started shooting hoops on the court next to where we were sitting.
The individual was several years older than me. He had gotten kicked out of high school a few years prior and was quickly becoming known in our town as being someone who was actively involved in illegal activity and crime.
After shooting a couple of baskets, he looked over at my friend and me, called us both by name and immediately started walking angrily toward us.
When he saw the Bible we were reading, he began yelling profanely at us, threw his ball across the court, picked up the Bible, and threw it onto the ground. When I got up to retrieve it, he shoved me back onto the picnic bench and slapped me across the face.
When my friend asked him why he was doing this, he said in much more colorful language, “Because I don’t want any of that Bible nonsense around here, that’s why!”
Suffering as a Christian is not fun. Jesus never said that it would be.
And yet, he promised that it would happen to those of us who follow him.
Two things separate Christian suffering from all the other kinds of suffering that take place in our fallen world:
1) Suffering as a Christian causes our eyes to be ever more focused on the hope set before us. The expectation that one day we will be a part of God’s new, perfect, and everlasting kingdom.
Romans 5:3-5 "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
2) God uses the suffering that we experience in redemptive ways. Ultimately, he uses it to sanctify, sharpen, and transform us ever more reflectively into the perfect image of his only begotten son.
James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Learning to view personal suffering through the lens of God’s redemption is a hallmark of mature Christian faith.
Have you learned to do so yet? Have you learned to see every trial, frustration, temptation, and even pain as an opportunity to press into Jesus? To have him reveal to you the surpassing worth of his life, promises, redemption, and work in you?
 In this verse, the “love poured into our hearts,” even amid suffering, is the evidence that God’s promises are real and that our hope is not in vain.
When Suffering Comes...