Such was the question posed to me in a discussion on the glory of God. I admired the young man for having the courage to say what many of us dare only think. Interestingly enough, the answer to such a quarry unlocks a refreshing balm for the afflicted soul. (This balm, however, can only be enjoyed by the person who has cried out to God for forgiveness and placed their total faith in Christ as their only Savior.)
Acts 14:22 “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” 1 Pet. 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.”
Clearly, the Christian life requires suffering for the spiritual refinement of the believer (I Pet. 1:6-7). We know this and embrace it. But why must it be this way? Rom. 8:20 should come to mind. “…to be conformed to the image of His Son.” Why are we being conformed to the image of God’s Son? Eph. 1:12 says, “…for the Praise of His Glory.” That’s the point of the Christian life. We were saved so God could bring glory to Himself, through our life, by conforming us to the image of His dear Son.
That’s how it looks doctrinally, but have you ever sat in a dimly lit hospital room, watching your wife of 40 years wither away before your eyes. Have you ever buried your own child? Have you ever lived in an incarcerating marriage where your husband is bitter, loveless and even harmful? Suddenly the words, “for the praise of His glory” seem, dare we say it, like the cruel demands of a pathological egotist perched on His throne demanding our pain for His pleasure.
My friend, such a concept is a cruel hoax only our jaded depravity could contrive. Are we to think God is so removed from the pain of affliction that His glory demands? Amputate such harmful thinking under the knife of John 17:1. “Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You.”
This was the start of the great High Priestly Prayer. The cross’ looming silhouette that Christ lived under for 30 years had finally come. Soon He would be abandoned by friends, betrayed with a kiss, lied about, misrepresented, mocked, ridiculed, whipped to delirium and stretched out naked on a cross while His enemies gleefully leered. And finally, most horrifically, His own Father would rupture the trembling heavens of their stored wrath, and pour down indignation upon His twisted form.
So do you think Jesus knows anything about suffering for the Glory of the Father? Do you think the Father knows anything about suffering for His glory? Man will never know the torturous rending of souls when the Father volitionally crushed His Son upon the cross for our sake.
Tell yourself, downcast soul, that the God you suffer to glorify knows far more about suffering for His own glory than you ever will. He asks of us nothing He, Himself, has not given. What an empowering truth! He is no enthroned, distant egotist demanding what He does not understand. He is the King who, once upon a time, set aside His crown and walked the lonesome road that we now walk. And it is through Christ and Christ alone that we find this balm.