The Meaning of Suffering


He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. (Hebrews 11:26)

We do not choose suffering simply because we are told to, but because the One who tells us to describes it as the path to everlasting joy.

He beckons us into the obedience of suffering not to demonstrate the strength of our devotion to duty, or to reveal the vigor of our moral resolve, or to prove the heights of our tolerance for pain, but rather to manifest, in childlike faith, the infinite preciousness of his all-satisfying promises — the all-satisfying greatness and beauty of his own glory as the fulfillment of all of them.

Moses “[chose] to be mistreated with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. . . . For he was looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11:25–26). Therefore, his obedience glorified the reward — all that God is for him in Christ — not the resolve to suffer.

This is the essence of Christian Hedonism. In the pursuit of joy through suffering, we magnify the all-satisfying worth of the Source of our joy. God himself shines as the brightness at the end of our tunnel of pain.

If we do not communicate that he is the goal and the ground of our joy in suffering, then the very meaning of our suffering will be lost.

The meaning is this: God is gain. God is gain. God himself is gain. That’s the meaning of our suffering.

The chief end of man is to glorify God. And it is truer in suffering than anywhere else that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.