Tag Archives: suffering

100% Perfect (Hebrews 5:9-10)

and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey himĀ  and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:9-10)

Looking in the mirror today, I couldn’t help but notice my lack of perfection. My hair is receding in uneven and undesirable directions. My belly is advancing over my belt. My eyes struggle to focus. I’m a bit of a wreck. My quest for perfection will have to wait until–oh, who am I kidding? It’s a lost cause.

As I read today’s verse, a continuation of the sentence in yesterday’s, I’m struck by something. Jesus, if I read this correctly, did not start out perfect. That’s not to say that he started out sinful and the worked his way to sinless. I don’t see that sort of thing ever happening. Instead, I think it means that he simply wasn’t perfect at the outset. Like a tiny green tomato on a vine, Jesus began as potentially perfect. He suffered in the wilderness, resisting temptation. He suffered undoubtedly before that. His temptation may have continued after the wilderness, although apparently Satan left him alone for a time.

When did Jesus become perfect? I’m not sure. If that verse, the one saying, “And with that piece of suffering Jesus officially became perfect,” apparently didn’t make any of the gospels. What we do know is that suffering led to obedience, which led to perfection, which made him the proper vessel for my salvation.

No amount of suffering or obedience can make me the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, but, happily, that job has already been filled. In fact, no amount of suffering or obedience will ever perfect me, but that’s okay.

Even as my body betrays the passage of years and my poor eating habits, my spirit, through suffering and obedience can become, if not perfect, less imperfect. Once again, if such a thing was desirable for Jesus, then it’s good for me as well. Perhaps tomorrow, as I look into the mirror, I can see myself as not better looking but a bit closer to perfect than what I saw today.

Suffering for Supper (Hebrews 5:8)

Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered (Hebrews 5:8)

I’ve been suffering today. There’s been food sitting in front of me pretty much from the rising of the sun to the setting of the same. Breakfast, at the Hampton Inn in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, included omelets and muffins. Good stuff. Lunch was taken at Chick fil-A. For dinner, we had oodles of pizza and then ice cream at the Baskin Robbins next door. In between, lest we waste away, we had a steady availability of candy and shortcake.

Okay, that wasn’t really suffering. In fact it wasn’t suffering at all. Perhaps if I had eaten the fruit for breakfast, the salad for lunch, and a couple of slices of cheese pizza at dinner, I might have been both sensible and (to a degree) suffering.

I’d never really thought of it before looking at today’s verse, but it’s really on in suffering that we’re being obedience. Could I claim to be obedient when my host tonight said, “Get some ice cream, Mark”? I followed his direction, but in doing so I simply did what I wanted. Big deal.

We learn obedience when we do what does not come naturally, what chafes against the sinful spirit. We learn obedience when we roll out of bed at an unkind hour, deprive the body of the food that it would love to ingest, or read scripture rather than watching NCIS.

How, precisely, did Jesus suffer? Beyond the cross, I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t believe that the author of Hebrews referred here only to those eighteen hours. Perhaps Jesus suffered in rising at hours that his body resisted. Perhaps he suffered each time he had to smell the stench of life in first century Judea.

I don’t know that it matters. He suffered and learned obedience. If Jesus needed that learning, how much more do I need it?

 

Gone Camping? (Hebrews 2:18)

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)

If you are reading this, then the Day of Judgment did not come on Saturday, as predicted by Harold Camping. Not being familiar with Camping’s exact claims, I’m not sure he would assert that the Internet would be wiped out by now, but I’m pretty sure that if Judgment Day has come, you won’t be saying, “Hey, I wonder what that Browning guy has to say about Hebrews today!”

As we attempt to live as peculiar people, separate from the world yet dwelling in the midst of the world, it is very tempting to say, “Hey Lord, how about coming back right now?” The Christian life has wonderful rewards, but, lived properly, it pretty well guarantees frustrations and suffering. Why do I have to live through several more decades of toenail fungus and Geico ads? Why can’t the whole thing just end now? I suppose that’s the sort of mindset that allows a believer to commit suicide. Dwelling on and longing for the return of Christ is a sort of cultural suicide wish.

But Christ did not call us to wish it all to be over. He didn’t call us to forfeit whatever remains of the game. His return has been promised, but it has not been promised in our lifetimes, regardless of what various “experts” like Camping suggest. Our call is to soldier on, to suffer as necessary through the remainder of our lives.

Happily, the writer of Hebrews assures us, we need not suffer alone. Jesus, having faced temptation, having endured suffering, can help us through it. He did not provide cryptographic clues to pinpoint the end of the suffering, but he did prescribe the life and values that can help us ride out the storm.

Suffering Makes Perfect (Hebrews 2:10)

In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. (Hebrews 2:10)

I suffered this weekend. Actually, the suffering started on Tuesday and ended on Saturday. On Tuesday, I noticed that problem with my truck’s wheel–you know, the lug nuts about to come off releasing the front-left wheel into the wild. Replacing the lug studs–the bolts that you screw lug nuts onto–proved more difficult than I would have expected.

First, I had to get the axle nut off. Before this week, I had no idea what an axle nut was, but I learned. Then I realized that I didn’t have a socket, wrench, or other grabbing device large enough to fit on the axle nut. I managed to procure the proper socket. Then I pushed and pulled on the ratchet with all of my might. I tried standing on the bar. No good. Eventually, as the sun beat down on my, I thought to use my jack to turn the ratchet. Amazingly, that worked.I suffered monetarily when I bought eight new studs and nuts.

Still, my ordeal had not ended. I had to remove the old, stripped out studs. I had to get the new ones in place. None of this happened easily. All the while, the sun was hot on my back and head. Eventually, I mounted the wheel and turned those new nuts as hard as I could. I drove the truck and tightened them some more. My plan is to keep tightening them after each drive until they don’t budge. So you can see that I suffered.

But my suffering was of my own making. My suffering was well deserved. What Jesus suffered in 33 years of life and 18 hours of outright abuse, was not deserved in the least. As I sweat and fret through this life of mine, I need to remember that pioneer of my salvation. He was perfect already, before his birth, yet he was made perfect as my salvation–and yours–through his suffering. That ought to get me through my next flat tire.