Sinclair Ferguson said, “Character doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. It is the result of God’s refining our lives through tribulation – and, yes, even suffering.” That sounds good, but still hard to hear in the middle of the mess. But hear it we must, and hold on to it tight, as we brace ourselves against waves of grief, then discouragement, then turmoil, and ongoing waves of whatever comes next. But there is hope on the other side of suffering after you go through the “spin cycle” – don’t lose sight of that.

Some questions often arise in the middle of suffering: Where is God in this? Why is God doing this? Why is God allowing this? God’s main goal is to show His glory. He is the most glorious thing (and person) in all of history. He created the universe for His glory, as “the heavens declare the glory of God.” That’s why the man was born blind in John 9:3. That’s why Lazarus was sick and died in John 11:4. That’s why Paul prayed, “From Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to Him be glory forever, amen,” in Romans 11:36. That’s why Peter urged us, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” And we can rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame (Romans 5:3-5). That’s why Christ suffered on the cross – for glory. God will not share His glory with another and He will do and use whatever it takes to display His glory, even suffering. And many will see and believe and worship Him. Amen.

How does your hardship and suffering today reveal the work of Christ and His glory in your life? When Joni Erickson Tada was a teenager and broke her neck and became quadriplegic, she had all sorts of struggle. “I always thought that God was good,” she said to her friend Steve Estes, “But here I am a quadriplegic, sitting in a wheelchair, feeling more like his enemy than his child! Didn’t he want to stop my accident? Could he have? Was he even there? Maybe the devil was there instead.” Where’s the glory in a diving accident, 9/11, WWII, or senseless murders? Where’s the glory in being laid off, cancer, Alzheimer’s, car accidents, illness, and tragedy? Her friend and pastor Steve Estes replied, “God permits what he hates to accomplish what he loves.” That’s what’s happening in John 9. That’s what happened at the cross. That’s what’s happening in your suffering today. That’s how Jeremiah explained it in Lamentations 3:31-33, “For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.”

I’m sorry you’re suffering now. We rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. To everything there is a season and there are seasons of hardship and sorrow. I don’t have all the answers but I can tell you God plans and works in suffering and tragedy. There is hope. God knows you, loves you, cares for you, is present with you, and is showing His glory in you, even through this hard time.