Here's a sermon by one of the finest preachers and theologians I know on a subject nobody wants to hear about. I know I don't. But I can testify from my own experience that it's true.We're often discouraged by the very thing that should prove to us that we belong to Jesus.
The Cross- not nonstop success and happiness and "victory-" is the mark of Christ's ownership. If the devil and the world crucified Jesus, what should we expect them to do to us, who belong to Him? On the other hand, why should they waste their time on those who are already theirs?
But God does the same thing in our lives that He did in Christ's- He turns the tables on the devil, the world and our flesh my using our very suffering for our good.
The story is told of a woman who burst into Luther's study one day demanding to know why God allows the innocent to suffer. He could have pointed out that none of us are actually innocent; that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." But instead, he pointed to the crucifix on the wall of his study and the One Human Being in all of history who was truly innocent and deserved not to suffer hanging on the cross for your sins and mine, bearing the suffering we deserve.
"I don't know," Luther replied. "But there He is. Why don't you ask Him."
In time of suffering our prayer should be that of our Lord in Gethsemane: "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. But Your will, not Mine, be done." He never wills us to suffer needlessly. But He brought the world's redemption out of Christ's drinking of His cup- and if He bids us drink ours, it is only to bless us through its very drinking far more than we can imagine.