Something that has become a part of my story in the past year and half is the battle with chronic pain. I never thought that this would be something I would experience at a young age, but it has already taught me so much. I hope that the Lord can use my words to encourage people who may be experiencing something similar, be it chronic pain/illness or any other kind of suffering occurring in their life today. And what I may be going through may not be as bad as what others may be, but nevertheless I have been shown a few profound things in the midst of it.
After a snowboarding accident almost two years ago, I have had chronic headaches, neck pain and severe TMJ almost on a daily basis. Since being in Italy, all of this has increased to a whole new level (mainly because I am out of my normal environment). All this to say, God is so sweet to show me Himself in the midst of this. It is no coincidence that I stumbled upon an old postcast on my iPod the other day by John Piper called, “The Supremacy of Christ in Suffering.” Wow that title in itself says so much!
Piper talks about suffering in a way in which I have never thought about it before. He says that the ultimate purpose of suffering in this life is so that Christ could suffer on the cross. God chose to display His glory by placing Christ on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice and reconciling sinners to Himself through Christ’s sufferings. Suffering must exist on this earth in order for Christ to suffer in our place. Someone had to suffer for sins, and Christ did so. Therefore, suffering will exist on the earth in order for all of this to take place. I know that this is not easy to wrap our minds around, but I think that it is encouraging that we can share in Christ’s sufferings. What He did on the cross is inconceivable to us, mainly that He suffered both a terrible and painful death, as well as absorbed all the sins of the world onto Himself at the same time.
When I keep my eyes fixed on the way in which Christ suffered, I am encouraged in my suffering and pain. Suffering has to exist on earth in order for the cross to have occurred, and therefore suffering is inevitable. You may be thinking, is this supposed to make suffering any easier? I have thought that too. But what has made it easier is fixing my eyes upon how God can be glorified through my personal suffering. Today, I was encouraged by three verses in scripture that took my eyes off my personal pain and directed them toward Christ:
Philippians 3:10 “…That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and may share his sufferings becoming like Him in His death.”
1 Peter 4:13 “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.”
2 Corinthians 1:5 “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”
I know that my personal suffering is not in vain and neither is yours. When we do suffer, Christ comforts us and also allows us to comfort others in their suffering also. Our time on earth is temporary and when we endure all the trials, hardships and sufferings, none will compare to the glory that will be revealed to us (Romans 8:18). I hope this is an encouragement and that we can cling to the hope of what our Savior suffered on the cross!
“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” Hebrews 2:10
I love this song by Phil Wickham, because I think that it shows what Christ did on the cross in a beautiful way. I believe that suffering on this earth is worth it in order for Christ to have brought us in to relationship with Himself through His suffering: