The Church in America needs a paradigm shift to comprehend that we are perfected through suffering.


Perfected through Suffering

Though He was God’s Son, He learned obedience
through what He suffered.
After He was perfected,
He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.

Hebrews 5:8-9

Jesus Learned Obedience

This passage from Hebrews is startling in three distinct ways. The first is that Jesus had to learn to obey His Father. Yes, He was a son, but He was the Son of God, the eternal Savior, the second member of the Trinity. He created everything (Col. 1:16). He was perfect. How could He have to learn anything? He was the Word, and the Word was God (John 1:1). Yet, when He became like one of us, He temporarily gave up much of what He enjoyed in heaven to be able to relate to us, understanding everything we would face in life (Phil. 2:6-8).

The Necessity of Suffering

The second startling fact is that Jesus, the infinite, eternal God-man, learned to obey by enduring suffering.  We can’t even imagine what He endured. His entire earthly life was anything but a life of ease. Then came the culmination of it all—the cross. Our natural man refuses to accept suffering as a necessity, whether for Jesus or for ourselves. It sees suffering as a bad thing that must be avoided at all cost.

Salvation Requires Obedience?

The third perplexing statement is that obedience is a prerequisite for salvation. That sounds like legalism—doing to be blessed. But if we look closer, we see that the term used is “eternal salvation.” This should remind us that there are three distinctly different aspect of our salvation. We are saved from the penalty of sin. This is justification. This part of our salvation is a done deal. We are being saved from the power of sin. This is the ongoing process of sanctification. Finally, one day we will be saved from the presence of sin. This is our glorification. All three comprise our eternal salvation.

Our obedience applies to our sanctification. We have already been saved by faith, but now, our sanctification depends on our obedience. If we truly love Jesus, we will obey Him (John 14:15).


With this as background, let’s take another look at being perfected through suffering. Saul was made king without ever enduring much suffering. Look how that turned out. His character left a lot to be desired and he never matured into a great leader. David’s life was filled with conflict and suffering. Despite the fact that some of his wounds were self-inflicted, God still used everything he experienced to mold him into a man after His own heart and Israel’s greatest king.

Our Character Reflects our Suffering

The same principle applies to us. Some character qualities can only be developed through suffering. Our model isn’t David. It’s Christ Himself, and it takes a lot of suffering to be conformed into His image. But it’s worth it. With the right attitude, we can endure our difficult times knowing that our Lord is in the midst of it (Rom. 8:28), smoothing out our rough edges, strengthening us, and making our oneness with Him more real.

How are you dealing with your current trial? Are you worn down by it? Are you wondering why you’re going through this again? Are you allowing it to weaken or even defeat you? If so, look closer to see how God is using it to perfect you. If you are a true follower of Christ, God will perfect you. Whether He does it the easy way or the hard way depends on your response to the difficulties He allows you to experience.



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