In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.
Joseph Parker said, “Preach to those who are hurting, and you will never lack for a congregation. There is a broken heart in every pew.” You might relate to that statement right now. Perhaps you are facing a tremendous challenge in your life.
I jotted down some of the problems I encountered from members of our church in one week. One person discovered he has cancer, another person is facing bankruptcy, one person is trying to care for elderly parents while maintaining their own household, another is contemplating suicide, another is facing the death of a child, and somebody’s mother was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Jesus was on target when He said, “In the world you have tribulation” (John 16:33). We all know that intellectually, don’t we? Yet when we experience it, many times we are shaken to the very foundation of our faith.
Suffering causes us to ask hard questions about God. If God is good, then why did He allow this problem? If God is great, then why doesn’t He remove this problem? If you have ever wondered those things, you are not alone. The Christians to whom the book of Hebrews was written were asking the same questions, so in Hebrews 2, the writer offered hope for those who hurt.
This letter was written to a group of Christians in the first century who had converted from Judaism to Christianity. But instead of solving their problems, their newfound faith was causing problems, at least temporarily. They were facing persecution and beginning to think, “Maybe Christianity is not all it is cracked up to be. Maybe it would be easier if I went back to Judaism.” In this letter, the writer explained how Jesus is superior to every part of the Jewish religion.
Incidentally, do you know why the Jews stumbled over Jesus as Messiah? It was not because of His teaching–they really did not disagree with His teaching. After all, who is going to argue with the idea of turning the other cheek and loving people? You do not get crucified for saying those things. And their stumbling block was not Jesus’ miracles–everybody likes getting a miracle. What made the Jews stumble was Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross.
The Jews could not accept a Messiah who would suffer. They were looking for a savior who would deliver them from the Roman suffering, not one who would be the victim of Roman suffering. They had very real questions about Jesus, and in his letter, the writer of Hebrews answered two of them: “Why did God allow Jesus to suffer?” and “Why does God allow those of us who trust in Him to suffer?” The answers will help us understand the purpose of suffering.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “For Those Who Hurt” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2018.
Joseph Parker, quoted in Charles R. Swindoll, “Hope Again” (Nashville: Word, 1996), 11-12.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.