Have you ever asked a question, sincerely wanting an answer, but once the answer was given you really didn't like it? When it comes to why God allows His people to suffer no answer is really comforting. The answer itself actually might be very hard to swallow and accept.
In today's post I am going to lead us to examine one explanation for why God's people suffer. But let me be up front with you from the get go; I don't think it's going to taste very good in your mouth. It's true but hard to accept. And while it may be hard to accept it is also at the same time very challenging and noble. Take a moment and read the verse that I am going to be using as my text.
"For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you." 2 Corinthians 4:6-12 (NIV)
I just love how verse 6 starts off. God who made the light shine in darkness also made His light shine in our hearts through the knowledge of God that we see in Christ. GOD MADE HIS LIGHT SHINE IN US! That's just powerful. We didn't discover the Light! We didn't create the Light! We did't even put the Light inside ourselves. The Light of Christ that shines through us is a work of God from start to completion. It was through God's initiative and by His own hand that the Light of Christ lives in us and shines through us. In other words, we are God's chosen vessels, that He is displaying His light through in our part of this spiritually dark world. That's our purpose and our mission. POWERFUL! SIMPLY POWERFUL!
We contain Christ's Light in "Jars of Clay" or in our broken and feeble mortal bodies. Now here it comes. This is the part that can be hard to swallow! God has chosen to display his light in the broken down and beaten up bodies of His saints in order to show the world that the power His saints display are not from them but really from God.
God wants to make sure that the world realizes who is truly the one powerful! God wants to make sure that we, his saints, don't get the credit for what He has done and for the credit that He deserves. And to insure that God's power and Light is manifested to the world in such a way that He alone get's the glory, He (God) allows his saints to experience trials, tribulations, persecutions and all kinds of hardships. In dying with Christ, through persecution, the life of Christ is manifested through us!
Here's why I also call this explanation and this kind of lifestyle noble: It's what the Apostle Paul says at the end of these verses.
"So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you."
It's NOBLE because all this suffering and dying is intended for the eternal life to be made available to others who still need to experience it. Nobility isn't define by what you say you believe but through your acts of righteousness out of your beliefs. What better act of righteousness is there than a person willing to suffer and even die so that others can see Jesus and receive eternal life? DON'T YOU THINK IT SOUNDS VERY CHRIST LIKE? ISN'T THAT EXACTLY WHAT CHRIST DID FOR US?
As Followers of Christ we are still here on planet earth for one reason and one reason only! That reason is simply so we can live a powerful missional life that brightly shines the Light of Christ in our part of this dark world. If nothing else is accomplished and we simple shine Jesus in a way that God gets the glory and not us then we've accomplish all that is of real importance. And as we accept our role of being the Light of the World then we need to also accept the very real possibility that suffering will be a part of that shining.