When we think about God’s promises, we tend to focus on the blessings: forgiveness, mercy, and eternal life, to name a few. But Jesus promised us something else as well: “You will have suffering in this world” (John 16:33). Read that again. That’s not You might or You may or You could. It’s You will. As sure as death and taxes and God’s love for sinners, we will suffer—Jesus guarantees it.
For many people, God and suffering are not compatible. If God exists, they reason, then there should be no suffering, for how could a good God allow it? But the true God is no stranger to pain. The Son allowed His body to be tormented and twisted by the most gruesome torture device of the ancient world, the cross. And He did so to put an end to the world’s suffering, once and for all. In the same breath that He promised us suffering, He made another promise, one so sure that it was spoken in the past tense: “I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).
Sin has so wormed itself in and through this world that we cannot avoid suffering entirely. It would be like trying to avoid sand at the beach. But we also suffer in a special way as Christ’s followers. We suffer because He suffered first. And when we endure this life and all it can throw at us, the same way He did, we display our faith that Christ has indeed conquered the world. For “if we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him” (2Timothy 2:11–12).