In Genesis, it tells us that God created the world in six days, and after looking over his work, he proclaimed that everything was “very good.” Early in the third chapter, however, the serpent appeared and deceived Eve. She and Adam ate the forbidden fruit, thus bringing evil into the mix. When God “discovered” the sin, he cursed everyone involved and part of the curse was that there would be animosity between man and man, and between man and the world he lives in. What we see around us is the result of that curse.
God could have simply wiped man out and started again, but instead, for whatever reason, he didn’t. He allowed history to continue on, allowing man to fight and bicker against one another, making things ugly. Throughout history God was always there asking men to come back to him, to stop their rebellion against him and thus against one another. But they refused.
Then Jesus came to earth, lived among us, died as our head and in the process took the penalty and shame of our sin, and rose from the dead to prove it all.
When we come to him, we relinquish everything we thought was ours, and give it over to his control. He is Lord of lords and King of kings. Our becoming Christians means we die to ourselves and change our allegiance to him. Part of this is that we stop trusting in ourselves for our wellbeing and give that responsibility over to him.
The world we live in is still in rebellion against him. If it weren’t, it would look very different from what it does now. When Jesus comes again, the world will look very different from what it does now—much more like the way it would have looked, but probably even more glorious.
What I’m saying here is that even though the world is a mess, and it is. It isn’t God’s doing. He has been fighting against the mess from the beginning. But he has given men over to doing what they want, while desiring them to repent and turn to him willingly. Consequently, we live as children of the king, in a world that has gone crazy.
In this light, Peter said, when you suffer, you should set apart Christ as Lord in your hearts (1 Pet. 3:15). This doesn’t change whether we suffer, but it does acknowledge that we’re in a war and we’re on the Lord’s side in the fight. Suffering, then is not meaningless. It is part of the great war we’ve been recruited to be a part of.
When we realize we’re in a war (and no one can escape being in the war), and that we’re on the winning side, we are able to understand all the passages in the Bible that talk about armor and battle and Lordship and suffering and victory. We are in a great battle and we’re on the Lord’s side—the winning side.
When you look at your life, it is easy to become discouraged and want to give up. There are two thoughts that spring to mind here: First, “give up” doesn’t actually mean anything. You aren’t being tempted to leave your wife and family are you? The thing that makes suffering suffering is that you don’t want to leave them. So, that can’t be what “give up” means. Leaving Christ doesn’t make any sense either, unless you’ve come to him because you thought you could milk him for his good blessings with no thought to bowing down to him as Lord. If that is the case, you’re not really a Christian at all and need to repent and confess him as Lord. But that isn’t true. You are a Christian. You aren’t going to leave Christ. So, “give up” means nothing really, other than that you are really tired of the fight.
The second thing that pops into my head is that the Bible is full of people being tempted to discouragement due to the pressures of life. But the answer is always the same, run to Christ. Take your burden to him, give it to him, take his and let him keep yours (Mt. 11:28-30). Realize that there is something much bigger than you going on. You are in a huge battle, a battle, which because of the Cross of Jesus, has already been won.
In the middle of the hardship, in the middle of the trauma of not knowing, in the middle of suffering financial mystery, cry out to God for peace. Trust in Christ the Lord. Arm yourself (Eph 6:10-20) for battle, join the fight, minister to the saints and those who aren’t yet. Trust God, praise God, thank God. He’s enlisted you in his army for your good and his glory.
There is a sense in which everything will turn out okay in the end. The author to the Hebrews (12:1-2) had this in mind when he said that Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross.” The context of this verse is telling us how we should view and live in the midst of suffering. We suffer, so we run the race, setting aside everything that hinders us from running well. We are in the middle of a great adventure that is leading to the end of all things. We are part of the process. So be encouraged, fight the fight, win.