Christian Hope and Suffering – Gospel in Life

Christian Hope and Suffering

Tim Keller |  May 16, 2004

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  • Suffering
2 Corinthians 4:7-18; 12:7-10
RS 173-9


The Christian hope is a life-shaping certainty that our ultimate future is the eternal love and glory of God, the new heavens and new earth.

The uniqueness of the Christian hope means every area of our lives is shaped by that belief, that future. And so the Christian hope has an enormous impact on how we face and process suffering, disappointment, difficulty, troubles.

In 2 Corinthians, we’re told three things about suffering: 1) the inevitability of it, 2) the pattern of it, and 3) the future of it.

2 Corinthians 4:7–18; 12:7–10

When we dig into 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 and 12:7-10, we see how hope in Christ influences our attitudes towards pain and hardship. This hope is grounded in the unchanging love and greatness of God. Hard times are bound to come, but they aren’t meant to break us. Instead, they show God’s power and the life of Jesus in us. The key is to keep our eyes fixed on what we can’t see – the eternal things. Our present struggles are shaping us for an everlasting greatness that’s far beyond what we can imagine.

1. Understanding suffering is part of life

We often forget that everything in this world, including our bodies, friendships, and talents, is temporary. Unlike older cultures that saw pain as a part of life, we tend to be shocked when we face hardships. The lesson here is not to be surprised by suffering, since everything in this life is fleeting. The only thing that lasts forever will be discussed next.

2. The role of suffering

Suffering, faith, and personal growth are closely linked, as we can see in the lives of Job and the apostle Paul. Hard times are not against the message of the gospel but rather support it, reflecting Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s important to hold on to the hope of being made new, because suffering can lead to deep personal change, similar to an acorn becoming a tree or a broken heart mending.


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