From the modern or contemporary perspective when it comes to suffering, the question seems to revolve around “Why do people suffer, or why me?”
This is not the proper question.
Rather, the appropriate question should be, “How does one embrace suffering without allowing the plight or anguish of suffering to dominate one’s thoughts, feelings, moods, desires, quests and calculations?”
Scripture is quite clear concerning suffering, it provides the proper way to address suffering and how to approach the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical pain associated with the anguish of suffering. The example of Christ’s suffering provides the best and most satisfying approach to suffering, it provides hope and the best logical answers to the age-old question concerning suffering.
The manner in which Christ approached suffering is threefold:
1. He did not think of himself as being beyond the pale of suffering as some do. Some believe just because they are rich, wealthy or well off they are immune to the sting of suffering, and as a result, they feel as though they deserve a pass, a miracle, or a presidential or religious executive order excluding them from suffering. If Christ the creator did not view himself as being above suffering or exempt himself from the sting of suffering why should his creation seek exemption from the sting or pain of suffering?
2. Christ submitted himself to the sting or anguish of suffering. He fully embraced suffering as a tunic, a garment, a vestment to be adorned rather than shunned. Unlike many of us who run or shy away from the idea of pain and suffering, Christ did not cower away from the pain of suffering, but rather he intentionally embraced suffering, knowing its purpose and intrinsic value. Likewise, if Christ can embrace suffering, if he can submit to the suffering of crucifixion, why should his creation not be able to embrace suffering and experience the intrinsic value found in suffering? It has the power to shape or mold a man into a vessel of glory and strength.
3. Christ was obedient to this thing called suffering. Scripture gladly exclaims Christ gave himself, his soul, his heart and his life fully over to every weight of pain suffering poured out upon him, even unto death. Likewise, if Christ can endure suffering unto death, why is it his creation struggles with the fear that suffering brings death? In the life of Christ, death was the expected end of suffering, but death is not always the result of suffering.
In lieu of death, suffering often brings with it the ability to see beyond ourselves and notice there are others whose needs are greater than ours.
Sometimes suffering allows us to see ourselves as being truly weak, frail and powerless to change our situation and, in turn, we are compelled to no longer believe in ourselves but to believe in the Almighty for hope and strength.
Suffering may permit a person to see this world in a different light, to realize everything in this world is temporary, and there is a Savior by the name of Jesus who loves them and desires they know him because he knows their pain, their sorrow and their every weakness.