Speaking of Life 5016 | Busy Work
Have you ever been assigned “busy work?” I despise doing “busy work?” It’s the type of work that doesn’t have a purpose except to keep you…well…busy. Sometimes this happens on a job where the boss feels like he needs to keep the employees working even though there is nothing left to do. I understand some busy work was necessary to keep employees employed during the pandemic, but I am easily frustrated with busy work – I want to be productive.
Suffering can sometimes seem like busy work; it can take up a lot of our time and keeps us from accomplishing the goals we have. And there is no getting around suffering; it is something we all face. And for someone like me, I get can get frustrated at the lack of productivity that suffering can induce. But perhaps during those times of suffering, there is a different way to be productive.
We know we will suffer, Jesus himself told us we would. He doesn’t bring suffering to us, but he wanted us to be aware it would come. Then he told us he came to take our suffering upon himself. And he did. He took (and continually takes) all our suffering, including our self-inflicted suffering, to the cross, and redeems it for his own good purposes toward us. The totality of our sufferings are now his which he took through death into resurrected life.
Because of this, our sufferings are now Christ’s own sufferings which we can endure with hope, knowing they will be used to contribute to the ultimate purpose he has for us. But what does this have to do with feeling like suffering is busy work – keeping us from being productive?
Paul addresses this in a rather shocking manner. He speaks of suffering as a point of rejoicing. He tells us that suffering, because of what Jesus has done, can actually produce something important:
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)
Suffering is a part of our broken world. Paul doesn’t mean we will enjoy suffering or that we should go looking for it. But, when it comes our way, which inevitably will, we can be assured that Jesus will meet us in our afflictions. This is why we can rejoice. Because our suffering is not lost, through Christ our suffering is redeemed. We can anticipate the good work the Lord is doing in us, through all our circumstances. It’s not a time of busy work – where we are just waiting for the suffering to end – it’s a time of God producing good fruit in us.
Just as Christ learned through his suffering, we too are formed more into the image of Christ through our suffering.
I’m Greg Williams, Speaking of Life.