But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:7-11, 16-18 (ESV)
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 (NIV)
Willing to Pay the Price
Suffering and how we bear it is what separates us from the world. Even though we may be afflicted in every way, as we look ahead to eternity and all that it is, we consider what we suffer here a light momentary affliction. And those of the Christian persuasion who don’t turn to God, that blame God for suffering and turn away either never had the true Spirit or did not care to go deeper if this was the price. If the price is suffering, many are not willing to pay it. But the anomaly is that they will then suffer apart from God, rejecting the Bible, cut off from the many resources He gives to help us bear the pain, like prayer, so that “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”
No one has ever suffered more than Jesus, He was afflicted in every way, yet when we read His story in the Bible we see that His suffering was voluntary. He is glad to have carried the weight of sin – the heaviest of all loads – so that He can help us to carry our loads when the time comes, making our troubles into a light momentary affliction, knowing He will be up to the task and you will know as well through the promises of the Bible. He is glad He can feel the full weight of our sorrows because He has already carried their full weight to Calvary. There is nothing you will ever go through that He cannot understand. That is why He came in the form of a man so that He can say He knows how we feel.
Willing to Die For You
After Peter strikes the servant to the high priest with his sword Jesus tells him to put it away and asks Peter, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” Scholars agree a Roman military legion constituted at least 6,000 men. Jesus could have commanded at least 72,000 angels, and the text suggests an even higher number, to fight for Him, but He submitted to God’s plan and His wisdom, even though He was afflicted in every way.
Interestingly, John is the only gospel author who does not record the prayer in Gethsemane (in its place is the prayer of Jesus for His followers) and Matthew 26 records Jesus thrice praying for release, Luke 22 details the prayer only once and Mark 14 gives the words of the prayer only once, but does report that there were three separate occurrences. The text recounting the prayer to God by Jesus as He sweated blood in great distress knowing that the time was approaching when He would be treated cruelly, savagely beaten and murdered to save us from our sins, asks if it is possible that there was another way (“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” Matthew 26:39b). This clearly shows that the choice was His to make. When He said “not as I will” He is saying that His choice, as fully human, would not be to choose to be afflicted in every way and suffer a painful death, but, He says “but as you will” in submission to God’s plan because He trusts his Father.
Jesus knows pain. Jesus knows suffering. And He knows how you feel. That’s why I love the Bible because it is a love story of God for us. He has faced the deepest anguish and He did it for you. Lay your burdens down and take up His yoke. Allow Him to pull the heaviest load because He is able.