Christ Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Suffering Makes You Look Like Jesus

“Count it a joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4

That is hard. I do not count it a joy when I meet trials of various kinds. Temptations that plague the flesh. Sickness and ailments that rob how I function. We tend to try and avoid these things at all costs. A joy? Bah! Suffering is to be avoided, not rejoiced in!

But come they do. Suffering, sickness and temptation.

Much of our modern world flees suffering and into the arms of pleasure for obvious reasons. Suffering does hurt!

But the Scriptures speak of a purpose to our suffering as Christians in a fallen world. Sure, suffering causes pain, but our pursuit of faithfulness will undoubtedly cause pain in a world that denies the God who made it.

Gracefully, I have been blessed by God to have witnessed these words from James play out. This lesson is not something that you can learn. Nor is it something that can be taught in a lecture or letter. It is seen in the schoolyard of experience.

Often in the hospital I see the fruit of James’s words here play out. Someone in agony, on the verge of despair will question their suffering.


Of course, there is no answer to that question, and we could just as easily ask, “Why not?”

But that question does not lead to joy, but perhaps closer to despair!

So why should we count it a joy?

Perhaps Acts 5:40-41 can help fill in the gaps. The Apostles have just been punished by the authorities for speaking in the name of Jesus. After they are beaten and released we are told that they were “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”
In their suffering, they found themselves looking like Jesus, the one who suffered for them and for you.

That is the joy. Often in the hospital, when someone looks in agony, I will try and say this, “You look a lot like Jesus right now.”

Isn’t that what we desire to be like? That is the example that we have in Christ Jesus. In our suffering, sin, and sickness we have a Lord who has gone before us on this road. And look what happened to him! He is now risen from the dead and lives and reigns to all eternity!

Suffering is worth it, not because suffering is good, but because suffering has a way of causing us to turn to Jesus Christ. It causes our hearts to burn in faith to trust in Him. It creates a steadfastness because just as Christ suffered and endured, so too will we.

Steadfastness causes us to become complete, lacking nothing. Because when we look like Jesus in his suffering, so too will we look like Jesus in his glory.

That is a lot to rejoice in. So remember, when you suffer in this earthly life: “You look a lot like Jesus.”

Pastor Andrew