The question all suffering ultimately causes us to ask is, “Why should I endure this?” “Why not quit? Why not walk away? Why not cover this up or drink till I can’t feel it anymore?”
The Apostle Paul gives two good reasons for enduring pain. The first has to do with me, with my character, my hope for the future, etc. We hear about that reason a lot.
The second reason he gives (see Phillipians 1:14, 28-30 and 1 Thessalonians 3:7) has nothing to do with me at all. We rarely, if ever, hear this reason.
Paul says the reason to endure pain, suffering, the difficulties and challenges we face is for the sake of others.
This is a radical, beautiful, world-changing approach to suffering. And it’s difficult.
Enduring suffering for the sake of others requires
. an understanding that life is not all about me. In my suffering I may feel like the world is ending, but it’s actually not. Life is continuing all around me.
. a recognition that I am connected to others. Others are watching me. My children are observing me. And they’re wondering NOT “will he make it through his pain”, but “will I make it through mine?”
. a willingness to allow God to use all of me…even my suffering. Long ago I told God “Use my skills! Use my strengths! Use my leadership!” It never even crossed my mind to say, “God, if you want it, you can use my suffering too.”
Enduring my own suffering for the sake of others declares to all who are watching, “This suffering will not prevail! Even if it kills me, I will be saved by God. And the God of life can save you too!”