Growth Through Suffering
By Susan Fiedler
Why does God let believers suffer? Well, let me get back to that. Instead, as we enter the week before Passover and Good Friday, we face another question. Why did the Father have Messiah suffer? Not much easier to answer! Greater minds than mine have pondered questions such as these. But God tells us in scripture that there was a transcendent purpose to the Messiah’s suffering.In the letter to Messianic Jews (otherwise known as the book of Hebrews) the KJV renders chapter 5, verses 8-9 as, “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…”
Wait a minute! Wasn’t He already perfect? How can He be made perfect if He was perfect already? This is where a more modern translation can help us, making the Greek more understandable to us present-day English speakers. The Message translates verses 8-10 as “Though he was God’s Son, he learned trusting-obedience by what he suffered, just as we do. Then, having arrived at the full stature of his maturity and having been announced by God as high priest in the order of Melchizedek, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who believingly obey him.”
Jesus (or Yeshua as we say in Hebrew) learned by experience and came to the full goal of His life on earth by His suffering sacrifice. And as painful as it is to contemplate, obedient suffering matures us, too. As I ruminated on the concept of Yeshua maturing through suffering a few years ago, a picture came to mind. Have you ever had a tea party with a little girl? It’s such fun to pretend to be all grown up with our little, itty-bitty teacups. We can sip so politely, holding out our pinkies just so. We feel so mature! But we aren’t mature. In order to be mature we need to graduate to grown-up teacups. Have you ever thanked God for abundantly blessing you—but at the same time asked for more? That’s not necessarily wrong, especially if you are asking that He equip you to do more in His service.But in order to receive a “fuller” cupful, your original container just won’t do. Instead, that tiny, baby cup is going to have to be broken, crushed, and kneaded into more clay. Then the Master Potter can take that newly malleable clay and mold it into a more suitable cup, one that will hold more of what He wants to give you.
If the Father and the pre-incarnate Son agreed that His suffering was the only way to mature Him to His goal (see John 17:24, I Peter 1:20), surely believers can be blessed and God glorified by suffering as well. While God can and does sometimes change wrong behavior by corrective trials, at this time of year His tender, loving kindness toward us becomes more clear than ever. The Father did not send the Son to His suffering out of displeasure in Him. Rather, the Son submitted to His suffering out of obedience to the Father. In Romans 8:16-17, Paul states it clearly. “We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!” (MSG) If Yeshua could glorify God by suffering, so can we.