“Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:17-18).
The problem of human suffering has perplexed many people who try to reconcile a powerful, benevolent God with the suffering of God’s creation. One need look no further than the Son of God himself to see many answers concerning human suffering. His sufferings truly aid all who struggle with temptations and trials of life. Consider three areas where Jesus shows how to view suffering.
- Suffering in Service. Peter wrote to servants, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” (1 Peter 2:21). Jesus is truly the epitome of the suffering servant. Peter makes it clear that suffering comes whether one lives unto sin or follows that which is righteous. He wrote, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil-doer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Peter 4:13-16). Serving in this sinful world will bring its own form of suffering in various ways.
- Suffering in Submission. It is stated of Jesus himself, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;” (Heb. 5:8-9). Those that obey the Lord will not learn obedience differently from what Jesus had to learn. Submission is to subject one’s will to the will of one of greater authority. Children will not learn obedience to their parents (cf. Eph. 6:1-3; Col. 3:20) without suffering. All men who obey the Lord must suffer changes to life for obedience to take place. Self must first be denied before any other action of obedience will proceed (cf. Matt. 16:24). Jesus shows how important this suffering is to salvation.
- Suffering for Sin. When all is said and done, it is sin that brought all suffering into the world. Too many blame God or someone or something else for various problems in life. Jesus came to deal with man’s greatest need, but suffering had to take place for redemption and reconciliation to come. Peter wrote, For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:” (1 Peter 3:18). The Old Testament prophecies had foretold of the sufferings of the Christ (cf. Luke 24:25-26, 46; Acts 3:18). Such suffering has its practical message. “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God” (1 Peter 4:1-2). Appreciating his sacrifice motivates to live unto the Lord.