What Does the Bible Say about Suffering and Endurance?
While the Bible does speak about how earthly things and states of being are temporary, the reason we are to endure is different than in the ancient sources for “this too shall pass.”
In the Bible, believers are called to endure for a purpose. Endurance is necessary to overcome the trials of this life. It is necessary to spread the Gospel. It is important because if the believer endures to the end, there is glory with the Savior in eternity. “This too shall pass” calls to endure because there will be a temporary reprieve from a current state of suffering before the next one comes. Often, the Bible discusses suffering and endurance together. To develop and cultivate one, a person must experience the other, but it is all for a purpose.
Verses about suffering and endurance do acknowledge that hard moments pass, but their context is different.
Some Bible verses about suffering include:
John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
These words come directly from the Lord Jesus. He acknowledges that believers must share in trials and hard times. They will endure, because Jesus has already won the victory over death - a victory in which they will share. The tribulation shall pass away, and it is assured.
Hebrews 13:6 “So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’”
The writer of Hebrews acknowledges the difficulties of life. In fact, there is an expectation not only of financial woes, marital discord, and loss, but of persecution and perhaps even martyrdom. Yet there is neither fear nor worry. These trials are small in the face of a mighty God, and the promise of eternal life.
Romans 2:2-5 “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 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.”
These verses fly in the face of worldly expectations. Not only does it acknowledge the suffering and trials of the world, but that believers can rejoice in their trials because it produces endurance, good character, and increases hope. Unlike the phrase “this too shall pass,” Paul’s words of wisdom do not merely accept suffering as an inevitable part of the life-cycle, but a source of personal improvement that brings the individual closer to God.
Philippians 3:8,12 “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ ... Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”
Many theologians believe Paul wrote this from prison towards the end of his life. He had lost much and suffered much. But for Paul, everything he lost was worthless in the face of the magnitude of who Jesus is, and what He has done for us. He chose to press forward in his faith, striving to be more Christ-like, because He was now a part of the family of God. This attitude toward suffering, embracing it as something in which the believer can glorify the Lord, is an important part of spiritual growth. It is not just enduring the pain, but using it for God’s glory.
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