SUFFERING IN ADVERSITY.
Hebrews 2:18 “Since He himself has gone through suffering and testing He is able to help us when we are being tested”
My friend Eric sent me this scripture and it reminded me of what Jesus went through on that final day of His life. That in turn has triggered thoughts of adversity and suffering and why each of us must sometime in our life experience adversity and suffering. Christ was required to suffer as the last blood sacrifice for our sins that we might have eternal salvation. Why we suffer adversity has more to do with God using it as a way of molding and shaping us into the perfected person fit for Heaven.
Christ suffered tremendously those last hours of His life. He had been horse whipped, beaten with a stick, struck with fists, probably kicked, fitted with a crown of thorns, spat upon, mocked and humiliated. By the time the cross was put on Him, He was exhausted from the pain of the beatings and loss of blood. The cross was probably the thickness of a railroad tie or larger, 12 - 16 ft. high with an 8 ft. cross bar, all weighing 200 lbs. or more. He was able to carry it only part way up the Via Dolorosa before collapsing under its weight, where upon Simon of Cyrene was conscripted to carry it the rest of the way. Even without the cross, Jesus stumbled twice more walking up the Via Dolorosa through Jerusalem. Upon exiting the city He would still have to climb the hill to Golgotha. There He was laid on the cross and nailed by His hands and feet. That pain had to be excruciating.
To support a cross that large, the Romans would have had to dug a hole at least three or four feet deep. They would then have raised the cross and dropped it into the hole, resulting in Jesus’ body dropping the same distance and only being restrained by the nails in His hands and feet, again resulting in great pain.
By now it is close to high noon and Jesus’ dehydrated body is exposed to a scorching desert sun. As the hours drug on and His various organs began to fail, I’m sure that Jesus wondered how much longer this ordeal would last. He cried out to a Father who He felt had abandon Him in His hour of need. Yet God hadn’t; the pain and suffering was required to cover the sins of mankind so that eternal salvation could be provided for all those who would choose Christ as Lord and Savior.
I am fascinated by the book of Job as it gives us a glimpse of what goes on between God and Satan every day. Satan is obsessed with trying to destroy man’s testimony of God, and he challenges God to pull back His protectiveness and allow him to beat on us with the hope that we will renounce and curse Gods name.
God allows this game to go on because He uses the adversity and suffering to mold and shape us into the perfected beings that will be fit to join Him in Heaven for all of eternity. He will not allow us to suffer more than we can endure, although there will be times we may think He has. There were times when I thought that I could not continue to endure the pain and suffering that consumed my days, yet I did. I knew that it was nothing compared to what Jesus had endured, or even what some of you have had to endure.
Did I feel the hand of God holding me up and comforting me? Honestly, no. Like Jesus, there were times that I felt abandoned by God, that He had left me to walk through the valley of death, that this ordeal was never going to end. Yet I knew by faith in the scriptures of God’s many promises that He will always be there in our hour of need. It just means that sometimes He has to stand back and allow us to suffer the pain and adversity in order to fulfill His will.
The sooner we learn that God is in control and that He is more concerned with the development of our character than our happiness and comfort zones, the sooner we will be able to deal with adversity when it shows up in our lives. I am reminded of the song “Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey”.