Thursday, June 16, 2016

Learning Through Suffering

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; - Hebrews 5:8

The above verse fascinates me.  Hebrews 5 talks about how God established Jesus as our High Priest--the one who would offer the final and ultimate sacrifice for sin.  The entire passage is a blessing to read and a beautiful reminder of just how precious our Lord is, but when I was reading through it yesterday, verse 8 jumped off the page and nearly slapped me across the face (proof that words can hurt, hehehe!).

The verse tells us that Jesus learned obedience through suffering.  We know that he suffered while on this earth, and not just the suffering of the cross.  He was ridiculed all His life.  He was mocked and disbelieved.  He was forsaken, even by His own Father.  He endured fasting and temptation on more than one occasion.  Yes, He was definitely familiar with suffering.

What fascinates me the most is the fact that He learned obedience.  I mean, we're talking about the Son of God--literally God Himself.  Wasn't He already obedient?  After all, He wrote the words "Children, obey your parents," so we know that He wouldn't instruct us to live one way while He lived another.  Plus, to disobey would be a sin, right?  Is God--even in human form--capable of sinning?  (See Hebrews 4:15)  Besides that, how is it possible for the Son of God to learn anything?  He's omniscient, which means all-knowing.  He already knows everything, so how could He learn something new?  (See Luke 2:52)

That single verse presents a long list of questions in my mind, but it also serves as a reminder to me that suffering has a purpose.  We are to be like Christ, so if He learned obedience through suffering, shouldn't we do the same?  The purpose of our trials is not to make us bitter; it is to make us better.  God often uses the struggles of life to guide us where we need to go and make us more open to His will and direction.  It's not to hurt us, confuse us or exhaust us, though I know it may sometimes feel that way.  No, even in our darkest moments, God is still working all things for our good.

I'm sure that, to many, the crucifixion of Christ seemed like a cruel and dark thing.  What kind of God would sacrifice His own Son?  What kind of man would endure such torment when He had the power to save Himself?  Yes, I'm certain that there was much confusion and disappointment that day, but through it all, God had a plan.  Jesus was obedient unto death, and His obedience gave us life.  At the time, it didn't make sense, but looking back, we can see how the intricate pieces of God's plan fit together.

In our lives, we don't have the luxury of looking back because we're living them right now.  We can see a few broken pieces but don't have a clue how they fit together.  That's okay because we don't need to see; we need to trust.  Understanding God's character and love for us, we can trust that our suffering has a purpose and that purpose is for our good.  Rainstorms bring about rainbows.  Suffering brings about obedience.  And obedience brings about a reward.  Hang in there, dear one, God is working in your trial.  Trust Him.  Lean on Him.  And be obedient to His will.  You won't regret it.  Jesus doesn't!
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