For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. Isaiah 35:6
Last October, I found myself in another hospital waiting room. My husband had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon. He couldn’t walk or drive for 6 weeks. You don’t plan for these things. They just happen.
Sometimes they happen more frequently than others.
When I look over the last year, I can’t help thinking of how many precious family members and other loved ones have spent hours and days in hospital rooms. I have been fortunate enough to just take up space in the waiting areas. While my heart aches for them, these people I love have felt it physically.
Pain. Nausea. Discomfort. Weakness. Weariness. Fear.
In those moments of heartache and pain, we naturally grasp for an answer to a tiny yet profound question. Why?
And in this world where Christianity is often touted as a direct link to blessing and prosperity, believers can be tempted to doubt God’s promises.
I get it. I’ve been there myself, wondering if God’s Word could really be true—wondering how a loving God could allow hard things like pain, suffering, and loss.
But I’d like to take a few moments to look at difficulty from God’s perspective.
For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake. Philippians 1:29
Beloved, scripture teaches that sometimes God grants you— and me—the gift of suffering. As a believer, a son or daughter—heir of the kingdom—God has chosen you for suffering.
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. Romans 8:16-17
Dear one, with or without Christ, this world produces suffering. But in Christ our suffering has purpose. Suffering with Him provides the means to establish us in our inheritance—to take hold of the promises available to us in Christ as co-heirs of all that God has given us.
You see, our promises aren’t just meant for heaven. We’re supposed to experience them here. And adversity provides the opportunity for us to do that.
Stick with me here. Ephesians 1:3 promises that God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” But God wants those blessings lived out “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). He wants our heavenly position to be evident on earth as He reveals His glory through us.
God’s glory becomes evident when we do what Jesus did: We face our spiritual enemy on earth and overcome.
Beloved, every spiritual blessing available to us in Christ remains a theory if we don’t grab hold of it and use it. Our trials provide an opportunity to prove our heavenly position and manifest our blessings on earth. We conquer fear when we face it and choose faith in spite of it. We’ll only experience the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) when we face circumstances that rob our peace.
Our suffering allows us to live out the promise of John 16:33.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Everyone will hurt and suffer in this life. But in Christ, God has granted us a glorious opportunity! In our struggles, we can draw on our heavenly inheritance and overcome, putting our enemy firmly under our feet.
David offers a good example of this in scripture. The Philistine army had the Israelites trembling in fear because of Goliath. The giant defied their God and challenged a man to fight him. If he won, Israel would serve the Philistines.
But David knew the Word of the Lord. Intimately. He knew the inheritance available to him as a child of God. So, he didn’t let the appearance of his circumstances overpower him. He drew on God’s promises, faced Goliath head on, and established his spiritual promise of victory as his earthly reality. (See 1 Samuel 17)
Our opening scripture reveals an important truth: living water bursts forth in desert places. If God has allowed suffering in your life, dear one, it isn’t because He has abandoned you or doesn’t love you. He has provided an opportunity for you to take hold of your inheritance and live it out on this earth.Suffering provides an opportunity to release our spiritual blessings in the earthly realm. Click To Tweet
Without the suffering of this past year, I would never have experienced the miracle of His peace. I would not have recognized the selfishness still rooted in my heart, and I wouldn’t have learned how to pray from my inheritance in Christ and see heaven move. I wouldn’t have known the joy of my Comforter, or watched spiritual chains fall from my loved ones.
God is for you, beloved. He has granted suffering as an opportunity to experience His presence and witness glory. And when glory reveals itself, suffering fades. And you experience the wonder of resurrection life.