“I assure you. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop. The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant will also live. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. John 12:24-26 HCSB
Suffering is a state of being that no one willingly chooses. Instead, we seek to maximize our comfort, pleasure, and happiness. We seemingly stop at nothing to make as much money as possible and climb the professional ladder in order to gain more power, influence and control… But at the end of it all, what is the value in all of this? To be comfortable? To gain material possessions? To be respected by our peers? At the end of life will how much comfort, pleasure, happiness, and acclaim really be the measure of a life well spent? It is not that these pursuits are negative… but if the pursuit of such is our primary goal, then we have fallen far short of that for which we were created – which is communion with God.
Though suffering is not naturally chosen, it can be a means of God’s grace in a person’s life. For it is through suffering and trials that one is stripped of the superficial pursuits of our world. Jesus’ paradoxical teachings in our passage today call people into something illogical in order to keep them from following what is human nature and “natural.” Jesus calls his followers to be like a head of wheat – falling to the ground – losing their lives in order to find what life really is. As previously mentioned, it is the counter-intuitive nature of this message that holds the power to prevent people from falling into the natural pursuit of things that stop at less than God… You see, Jesus was calling His followers to willingly choose to lay down their humanly pursuits for the sake of pursuing Him… The pursuit of God, though often very difficult and sacrificial, is where true life is found. Because each of us were created for Him, anything less is not abundant life.
Challenge: Suffering can be a beautiful condition that purifies us from the tendency to settle for anything less than God. How might you embrace suffering rather than seeking to minimize it or avoid it? How can suffering be a means of God’s grace in your life?
Note: Today’s devotional was written by guest writter, Jonathan Moore.