The Hidden Character in Our Story
I know someone who is trapped in a dead-end job right now. He’s been there for years now and he’s trying to make the best of it, but realistically, his resume is probably far too stale for him to get a different job for which he’s qualified.
I know a woman who has an ongoing chronic condition that doctors can’t fix. You’d never know it if you spent time with her — the embarrassing symptoms, the limitations. She longs for some medical breakthrough that will fix the problem, but there’s little hope for that and for whatever reason, God hasn’t healed her.
I know a number of single people who long to be married. They’ve checked all the right boxes — they’re financially stable, physically fit, and godly — but nobody seems to notice them.
I was working out the other day and I got frustrated as I came to God with one of my own requests for Him to end suffering in my life. Finally, I tried to make myself feel better by saying, “This is my story, this is my story.” What I meant was that this is my cross to bear, this is my lot; and I need to live my story without resentment or despair. But then I started sensing that “this is my story” wasn’t quite right — it was almost right.
Then it came to me: This isn’t your story, this is Christ’s story. It’s His story and you’re in it — not the other way around.
Jesus did not stop suffering on the cross. He continues to suffer with His children because He literally lives inside our bodies. He goes through the very circumstances we are experiencing every day. This is His story, the suffering that came after His resurrection.
“Since we are His children, we are His heirs” (Romans 8:17), but we don’t just inherit heaven or a happy ending to our stories. Yes, “together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering” (Romans 8:17).
Suffering is not an exceptional state that God will always fix. It is part of the package on this side of heaven, part of the story. But we do not walk through the pages of our stories alone. Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, writes Himself onto the pages, into the very characters He created (Hebrews 12:2).
Jesus bears the burden with us until the surprise ending nobody could’ve anticipated. That’s His story, the one of a Savior who, in the midst of our suffering, “is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).