“I think the great challenge in the suffering that marks every human life is how not to flee it, but to go through it, to a deeper and better kind of authority that comes on the other side.”
Andy Crouch is executive editor for Christianity Today and author of Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing. He looks at how we flourish when we realize that weakness and suffering can actually give us authority.
How do we know this? We look at Jesus.
“Jesus visited that part of life as well. So if the ultimate God had never known that, we would really be stuck… Jesus actually went there. And on the cross, you’re physically immobilized; you’re exposed to shame. The Romans crucified their victims naked, which is a deep kind of human vulnerability.”
Yet Jesus endured, and the Father gave Him all authority in heaven and on earth through his experience of suffering.
“There’s nothing – no level of shame, no level of immobility – that Jesus didn’t experience, all the way to death.”
He took our shame, we don’t ever have to live with it again. Andy points out a crucial detail.
“He still has the wounds. So He didn’t remove the marks of His suffering. When we see Him in the New Jerusalem, He’s going to look like a lamb that had been slaughtered. He holds onto all that vulnerability, and yet rules and reigns with it.”
This is an example for us. Our pain can bring us to a new level of understanding, compassion, and power. It seems backwards, but Jesus shows us why it’s true. Stepping into pain instead of running from it can bring us power and perspective that we wouldn’t otherwise gain.
“If we don’t hide from or run from the pain of our reality, there’s a kind of spiritual authority that can come.”
Andy references 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
“This is probably what Paul is getting at when he says, ‘I’m going to boast in those things’…because Christ’s power is actually made known in those very things.”
When you suffer, remember Jesus’ suffering. He learned obedience by what He suffered, and He brought us healing by what He suffered. What relief can you bring to someone else because of the trials you’ve walked through?
Key Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 12:9-10