Why leave us in this world to suffer?

Living in Christ’s world, under grace, is no bed of roses. It’s wonderful that we’re in it, because once we’re in it Jesus isn’t going to lose us, but just like the children in Narnia we face an ugly world every day and we still find ourselves with some pretty awful thoughts and motives. So why doesn’t God get us out of this world, free us from the influence of evil, and let us live our new nature to the full, without interruption from the wiles and schemes of the Devil?

Paul answers that in Romans 5:3. He talks about rejoicing in our sufferings because there’s a purpose to them, just like there was a purpose to the challenges the children faced in Narnia. When they first entered Narnia through the wardrobe and set out together to explore this new and fascinating land, they were typical children. The younger boy was soon tempted by the witch to suit her evil purposes. The two older children weren’t exactly forgiving toward him, either. They were short-tempered, impatient with each other, and really very selfish at the beginning. But all they had to go on was their own childish strength and responses, so they soon lost heart if things went wrong, and they easily got angry and scared. 

As they spent more time in Narnia, however, they grew. But it wasn’t because of anything they were consciously doing to make themselves grow. They weren’t on a program of self-improvement or character development. They were simply responding to each difficult situation as it arose, in the process of which they grew. They became more forgiving, more patient with each other, more courageous and more positive, not because of anything they were doing, but because Aslan, the great lion, had planned it this way, that the journey he had them on would produce the growth.

Our own Aslan, Jesus, planned it this way for us, too. That’s why we can rejoice in our sufferings, verses 3-4, “because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character; and character, hope.” The journey produces these things for us just as it did for the children in Narnia. Every suffering and trial has a purpose. In some way we’ll grow from it. And that hope will never be disappointed (verse 5) because “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Aslan did the same for the children, too. He infused his nature into them, so they’d never lose hope on the journey. Yes, the journey gets rough, but we discover in time that we’re not the selfish, fearful children we used to be. We’re growing up.      


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