Hebrews: Thoughts on Suffering
The past few weeks, I have been reading through the book of Hebrews. To be honest, I don't know how I've missed the gloriousness of this book in the Bible. I know I've read it before, or at least I've read some of it, but it truly is remarkable.
I've always thought of Romans being the "grace" book - indeed, it is the book that lays out clearly that salvation cannot be earned by what we do. However, Hebrews is just as much of a grace-cry as Romans, and it all centers around our beautiful, sacrificial High Priest. Because of Him, we may approach the "throne of grace," we may have confidence in our salvation, we may recognize that without Christ, we are nothing, but with Him, we have all!
Here are just a few verses that struck me the past couple of weeks. If you (as I had) have no recollection of reading this, do it now. :)
Therefore, while the promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear so that none of you should miss it.
Hebrews 4:14 - 16
Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens--Jesus the Son of God--let us hold fast to the confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us as the proper time.
During His earthly life, He offered prayers and appeals, with loud cries and tears, to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Though a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. After He was perfected, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, and He was declared by God a high priest.
One of the things that is so amazing is the role of Jesus' suffering in his life. Sometimes, I think that His suffering on the cross was only to pay for our sins, but Hebrews explains that Christ's suffering had a greater role. He "learned obedience" through His suffering; He became a perfect High Priest through His suffering; He became the ultimate mediator between God and man.
We tend to shy away from the role suffering plays in our own perfection and obedience on this earth. The moment we have pain, we cry out to God to remove it. But if Jesus, the perfect Son of God, learned obedience through His suffering, how much more do we have to learn? Suffering leads us to the throne of grace, to the great High Priest, to the victorious Savior. Suffering - as devastating as it is (and let's be honest, it is devastating: the cross, illness, abuse, loss, pain) - has been redeemed by God to be used for good. We can get even bolder: Suffering is ordained by God to be used for good. Jesus cried out to God, to the "One who was able to save Him from death" and God HEARD Him. He heard Him! He heard Him, and yet Jesus still suffered.
Jesus suffered, so that He could become the great High Priest, so that when we are broken, we get to receive grace and mercy from Him, both in the form of eternal salvation, but also in daily, timely salvation: "Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us as the proper time."
I look forward to our life in Heaven where there is no suffering. I rejoice that those who have gone before us are experiencing a fullness of life that doesn't include pain or sorrow. I glory in the fact that evil will not always exist alongside of good, and that God's justice will prevail. I praise God that His plan includes an ending that is perfect in every way. And I find comfort in knowing that the suffering in this world is not and never will be in vain. We serve a mighty and powerful God.