In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,…” — Hebrews 5:7-9, ESV
Christ LEARNED. Let’s start there. Jesus, the almighty and eternal one LEARNED. It is possible for one to think on this topic, only to have his/her mind implode from within them because of the sheer magnitude of this. Jesus, who knows all, learned. What did he learn? He learned obedience. Obeying was not something that Jesus was accustomed to. But it was through suffering that taught Jesus to obey, even when it took him to a cross.
Second, Christ learned obedience through what he suffered. So this one phrase causes us to stop in our tracks and to rethink everything when suffering comes. The truth is that we will usually do anything to try to get suffering away from us—far away from us. But the truth is that so much is learned through our times of suffering, that to get rid of all suffering would be to get rid of so many times for growth and intimacy with Jesus. And I am well aware that there is so much suffering all over the world. But the truth is, God is well aware of it and actually has personal knowledge of the ultimate suffering to help every person exactly where they are.
It is this verse that causes every Christian to wrestle with and come to some conclusion about their “theology of suffering.” It can’t be ignored. But I’m convinced of this: that when suffering is embraced as the chisel that forms me into what God has in mind for me, teaching me how to obey, it is then that suffering can be appreciated. I’m not saying that it’s enjoyed, but appreciation for suffering can be a reality for me as I see suffering as a tool in the toolbox of God’s project called, “Brian.”