Is Suffering God’s Desire for Our Lives?

Erik Cooper —  January 18, 2012 — 4 Comments

Is suffering God’s desire for our lives? Masochism some unlisted fruit of the spirit? The gateway to knowing God? After all, Jesus said some really disturbing things like:

“Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how.”Matthew 16:24

He was called a “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.”Isaiah 53:3

Suffering is an undeniable part of this human journey. But is it some kind of virtue to be pursued? I’m wrestling with that.

Jesus was crucified.

Paul was shipwrecked. Put in prison.

11 of 12 disciples were martyred for their faith.

I’m no theologian, but I don’t think any of them desired their painful outcomes (Jesus Himself is seen begging the Father to find another way the night before His death).

I think they were just dead set on embracing their purpose. Their God-given identity. Who God originally designed and created them to be from the foundation of the world. As they pursued that purpose, suffering became an undeniable side-effect.

As we pursue purpose, we will face suffering.

Pursuing God’s purpose assaults our sinful self-obsession.

Embrace the suffering.

Pursuing God’s purpose engages the sinful self-obsession in those around us.

Embrace the suffering.

Pursuing God’s purpose enrages the forces of darkness at work in this world.

Embrace the suffering.

Don’t go looking for pain (that’s just a little weird). Pursue purpose. And then prepare to embrace the suffering.

What do you think? Do you agree?

NOTE: My friend and co-pastor Nathan LaGrange shared his family’s personal journey towards God’s purpose, and the pain they’ve embraced as a result, this past Sunday at City Community Church. You can hear it here.

4 responses to Is Suffering God’s Desire for Our Lives?

  1. I really appreciated Nathan’s willingness to be transparent and vulnerable last Sunday. It would be nice to think that everything is all sweet and wrapped in a bow sitting there on display. However, when we are weak, He is strong. I was able to see God’s strength in Nathan’s life Sunday.

    I am grateful that you and Nathan tackle real life…

  2. Erik – I wonder if Hebrews 12:2 is relevant here as well. Jesus despised/diregarded the shame of the cross. I was thinking that Jesus surely endured the cross and all the suffering that came with it. Yet, He put aside the shame that came with the suffering. I think of many who feel ashamed when they suffer, but with Christ as our model, we can set aside that shame 🙂

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