Hope in our Suffering

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18 NLT

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I’ve had opportunity to share with people on occasion, who have suffered incredible unjust pain. Some were molested. Another was fired from his job in favor of an inside-track family member. Still another was made to watch as her child was taken from her and she was required to pay alimony when she earned less than 1/2 of her former husband. The list could go on.

These people have a fellowship in Jesus’ suffering and death that I do not have. Almost all of my suffering has come because of my own actions. It might be difficult to see how Jesus would need to die for those who have suffered unjustly, but it’s easy to see why he would have to die for me.

What I have learned through those conversations, however, is that everyone’s greatest need is for forgiveness. Everyone. That’s because in the dark hours of unjust suffering every mortal loses faith, becomes self-righteous, resents his tormentor, or fails to love his enemy in some manner or other.

That is a challenging statement – and worth a much closer look and examination. The concept is more fully developed in the book, The Wounded Heart, by Dan Allender and Karen Lee-Thorp. I recommend it heartily, even though it is intended for adult victims of childhood sexual abuse. The principle remains: in the moments of dire suffering and injustice we conclude that God is no longer with us, that we do not matter to God, and that there is no hope for a better life.

That’s why Jesus died. The just for the unjust. To bring us to God. He committed no sin, but offered himself for sinners. Through him we are brought to God. And just so we can be certain of his victory, and of the sufficiency of his sacrifice, God raised him from the dead and seated him in glory. Triumphant. Glorified. Living. Reigning over all – even over the injustices of this world. That’s no pass for seeking justice ourselves and doing whatever we can to uphold that which is fair and true. But it gives us hope when we do suffer.

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