2 Corinthians 5:2-4. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
The life of the Christian IS the life of suffering. There is simply no way around this. Let me explain why.
We suffer when a desire goes unmet. This includes so many things in our lives from the death of a loved one, to the loss of a boyfriend or girlfriend, being passed over for a job, or even smaller things like a flat tire or a disagreement with a friend.
In 2 Corinthians 5:2-4, twice Paul describes our life as groaning. Suffering. This has, of course, been the theme of this whole letter. We groan because we are still in the tent. We groan because we still don’t have all of our clothes on. Our longings for completion, for justice, for perfect love, for immortality, and goodness are going unmet.
And this is why the Christian life is, by definition, a life of suffering. Because we have desires and longings that will NEVER BE MET until Christ returns.
Any church, pastor, book, theology, TV preacher, or blog that tries to tell you that Christianity is about getting over your suffering, or moving past the pain, or having your best life now simply does not understand union with Christ and his cross, or the unseen realities of eternity, or the nature of suffering, or 2 Corinthians.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me. We are not called to seek suffering, or increase suffering, or ask for suffering, or enjoy suffering. As I’ve said before, we must call evil, evil. We are called to end suffering, fight suffering, and pray for those facing suffering in every way that we can.
But the truth is, we don’t ever have to go looking for suffering because it’s looking for us. It’s built into this crazy, chaotic world. The fallen world is falling on us every day in big and small ways. Suffering is built into our souls because sin remains in us. Suffering is the reality we live in as those who are being transformed over time. We simply do not have all that are heart desires. And, above all, suffering is at the very essence of our faith. How?
Because our faith is founded on GRACE.
We’re all looking for glory. And we’ve become very good at using God to get it. Each time we pray to God and ask him to remove the trial. To curb the suffering. To show us the way. When we “move on” or “get over” our sorrow, without embracing it, facing it, or allowing it to make us weaker and weaker. This kind of Christianity has no need of God’s grace. If there’s no suffering, no weakness, no cross to carry, no neediness, then why would we ever need grace?
But what we have failed to see is that God’s glory is his grace. His goodness. His compassion. His strength in our weakness. His wisdom in our folly. His righteousness in our sinfulness. His glory in the cross.
“To live is Christ” is to groan. Life isn’t what it will be. You aren’t what you will be. None of us are. We long for better days. We sorrow. We’re weak. We need Christ to rescue us every single day of our lives. The sooner we admit this, the sooner we will be open to God’s grace, and thus his glory. The glory of the cross.
How aware are you of your need for grace each day? You will grow in Christ in direct proportion to this awareness.
And now here’s some lamentations to help you groan this weekend and cry out for grace.