Must Our Illness Be Our Thorn?

It seems rare these days that I find something insightful on the topic of suffering.
This devotional post titled How to Suffer As a Christian – Must Our Illness Be Our Thorn? from the folks at Rest Ministries fits the bill. Here it is in full:

“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same
attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.” (1 Peter 4:1)

In his book “Surprised By Suffering“, R.C. Sproul says:
“. . . suffering is a vocation, a calling from God.”
I’m not sure how I feel about that. Being called upon to suffer is not something to get excited about, not if we look at suffering within the limited vision of pain and misery. Suffering only becomes something to be valued and useful to us in the light of Christ’s suffering; our suffering gains meaning in the light of Christ’s suffering.

Years ago I sensed the Lord trying to get the message of suffering across to me. I did not want to hear that I would have to suffer, but the fact is, if you belong to Christ, you will suffer, one way or another. To pick up our cross is to follow in His footsteps, and the path He walked was rough and rocky, pain-filled, and laden with suffering.

One thing suffering does fairly quickly is to get our eyes off of this world, to lessen our love for this world and begin to look forward to heaven. If we were given “heaven on earth” we’d have no desire to ever leave this place. Suffering lifts our eyes heavenward, to desire something better than this present world.

I don’t know what you might be suffering right now. You may be enduring one of the worst periods of suffering in your life. I encourage you to look toward Jesus, consider how much He endured, and place your suffering in the light of what our Lord endured for us.

It would be nice (we think), to never have to suffer, to never know pain and hardship, but whether we want to admit it or not, suffering changes us, it enables us to set our priorities correctly, and it causes us to look to, and call upon God for help.

Call upon God to help you through your times of suffering, and know that He is with you no matter what you are going through.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to stand strong in Your Spirit no matter what suffering comes our way. Amen.

About The Author: Karlton Douglas lives in Ohio with his lovely wife. He has suffered many years from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Crohn’s Disease, and has found God’s grace in the midst of suffering.


  1. Thanks for posting this Bob. It especially hit us as we walk through yet another "suffering" period in our walk and conformity to Jesus our Lord and our Savior.

    This is so good. Would it be okay for me to repost it on Spiritual Sunday?

  2. Since we are crucified in Christ, since we must take up our crosses and follow Him, by His direct command, any theology that avoids suffering is incomplete.

    St. Paul himself offers his suffering, joins it to Christ's on the cross, makes his suffering a time of unity with Christ. Knowing completely that nothing is needed for our salvation, that Christ paid the price once and for all for our redemption, that we can earn nothing, he still understands the role of our suffering in this fallen world: "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known." (Col 1:24-25)

    Do a word search on "suffering" sometime, on biblegateway or the like, and see the truth: when we bear our sufferings and unite them to the Lord's, we do a holy thing and God blesses us in the suffering itself, not by taking it away, although He can and does, but in the very act of living through pain and humiliation and loss.

    At the very least, it makes us humble and throws us upon the Mercy of God.

  3. @Susan - glad you liked it and glad you posted at your place.

    @Therese - I sometimes think that following Christ is all about following him in suffering. Hard to imagine how He suffered by simply being limited to a human body.

  4. "I sometimes think that following Christ is all about following him in suffering."

    You got it, Bucko. Too many Christians want to forget that "we preach Christ and Him Crucified" and want only a bare cross and no Passion and Death.

    When they ignore His Suffering for us, then it's harder for them, I think, to bind their sufferings up with His for the sake of the whole world.

  5. Suffering only becomes something to be valued and useful to us in the light of Christ’s suffering; our suffering gains meaning in the light of Christ’s suffering.

    That is so encouraging. If I can't make sense of my suffering then I know that at least He has been there. It's not something I like to admit but He uses suffering to bring me into line... that's how it is, I'm not proud of it, but I know that one day I will be so grateful.

  6. I hear what you are saying Mike. God is not the author of suffering but He does use all things to work together for our good.

  7. It’s really a nice and helpful piece of information. I’m glad that you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.


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