“And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things…” Mark 8:31
How could I have missed it after all the times I’ve read this passage? Good, God-ordained things come by way of suffering. Jesus made this clear to his disciples in Mark 8. But like the disciples who didn't understand, my heart fails to understand. Like Peter, who thinking he knew better than Jesus takes him aside and rebukes him, I don’t want to hear it! I want to live comfortably and avoid suffering!
But as it is evident earlier in Mark 8, it is in the desolate place that the compassionate Christ satisfies hungry bellies with more than enough food, with leftovers to spare! And it would be through the betrayal, bloody tears, beatings, and the cross that Christ could offer superabounding grace to mankind! He fully believed that the nails that would be driven through his palms and feet were a precursor to joy for the world (Heb 12:2). He must suffer. So must we.
What if I actually believed that my suffering is not God’s accomplice for destroying my life but rather his means of producing immeasurable blessings and spiritual richness? How might I handle my suffering differently if I saw it as the necessary means of bringing me fullness of life and great pleasure? John 15 says it is through the painful act of pruning that the Vinedresser makes the branches more fruitful!
Father God, I rarely understand Your ways, but remind my heart to rejoice in suffering as the sovereign tool that develops greater assurance of Your wonderful love. As the thorns of a budding rose provide protection from its predators, may I gratefully accept the sting of sufferings that safeguard my faith in Christ! May suffering stir my affections for my beautiful Savior, my greatest joy!