Why do Christians suffer? Making this question more personal, why do we experience suffering? This essay does not try to explain theodicy but will encourage the readers to yearn for the blessed hope. In fact, we are saved “in hope” (Rom 8:24).
The problem for many Christians is that, in their midst of trials and suffering, they question God—“why is this happening to me?”—yet, they do not long for an answer. If only they open the Word of God—the Bible—then they will find the answer.
Many focused on how big their problem is rather than how big their God is. As John Newton, author of the famous hymn Amazing Grace, would even say, “Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” This person who experienced much suffering throughout his life was able to see the reality of the blessed hope.
The blessed hope is not a concept nor a philosophical theory; this blessed hope is a person. Christ is the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) and the “Living Hope” (1 Pet 1:3). The agonizing reality that we face here is temporal and can be overcome through Christ.
When clinging to the blessed hope, Theologian Harald Hegstad notes, “In a Christian perspective, hope is not a starting point for fleeing into dreams of a better future, but a perspective on the present day. The hope that the kingdom of God will one day be victorious gives us the faith that it is worth fighting for the good and against the evil. The faith that Jesus one day will return makes faith in Jesus here and now meaningful.” Significantly, we wait for this blessed hope’s return. Dr. Tom Schreiner explained, “When Jesus returns, the consummation and fulfillment of all of God’s saving promises will be realized.”
Therefore, as stated, the blessed of hope is Christ–who is in control of everything (Heb 1:1-3). The author of Hebrews reminded us to persevere and endure such realities by “looking to Jesus” (12:2). Truly, Jesus is the “author of Life” (John 14:6; Acts 3:15); it is way better to trust the One who is in control than us.
Yearn more of this blessed hope, Christ Jesus.
Hegstad, Harald. God, the World, and Hope: An Introduction to Christian Dogmatics. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf&Stock, 2018.
Schreiner, Thomas. New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2008.
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For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. Philippians 1:29