"It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes." Psalm 119:71
Typically, when we think about suffering, "good" is not a word that we would use to describe it. Our flesh cries out that suffering is bad because it is painful and sometimes heartbreaking. Often we feel miserable emotionally and sometimes physically. Yet, there are good things that suffering brings into our lives. The Bible teaches us that however we feel about suffering, it is good for us.
Here are some of the good things that come from suffering: Suffering teaches us about God and about ourselves. In the fires of suffering we learn what we are really made of. While suffering, we learn what we truly believe about God and who we are to Him. Suffering brings out our theology, and we learn if it is accurate.
Suffering identifies us with Christ.
"For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps”1 Peter 2:21
What you are suffering may be a result of something you have done or something that is unjust. In other words, you may be suffering because of the sin of another person or a decision they made that did not turn out well. You may be suffering unjustly at the hands of another. Understand that part of the calling we have received in salvation includes bearing up under unjust suffering as Christ did.
Christ left you the example of how to do it; we know His suffering was far from just. The suffering of Christ on the cross was our suffering. It was not just – it was justice. It was God exacting the justice – the price He requires to satisfy the debt of our sin, and applying it to our account. That in every sense of the word is not “fair” it was not just.
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
Sinless Jesus sacrificed Himself for us. He suffered as He left the Father’s side and humbled Himself to become one of us (Phil. 2) to live and walk among us. He suffered as he experienced humanity in every aspect. Hebrews 4:15 says Jesus can sympathize with us in all our weaknesses because He was in all ways tried and tested as we are.
He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. (Isa. 53:3)
His family thought he was crazy before they came to believe He was truly the Son of God. He lost friends and relatives to death and sickness and injustice (John the Baptist, Lazarus). He died taking all our sin upon Himself, so that we would be justified in Him. His suffering made the way for us to be made right with God. His suffering was on our behalf.
As we bear up under the sins of others, and as we reap the consequences of the sin of others we have a place to go to learn how to do that. We have the privilege of following Christ and we can look to Him and see how He responded when swore at, how He responded when he was hurt or hated, or rejected. Follow His example and you will bring forth a harvest of righteousness.