Suffering exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not suffering, because God is ultimate, not our pain. When this present evil age is over, and the resurrected in Christ inherit the restored creation, their suffering will end. But worship abides forever. John Piper, in his book, Let the Nations be Glad, says the same thing about evangelism — here I apply the logic to sanctification.
Because worship is ultimate and not suffering, we do not have ranking or status according to our raw capacity to suffer (nor by our personal history of pain). We are known by loving what Christ loves and by our passion for the right doctrine of God, and for our passion for Christ — and suffering is one of the provisional means to perfect those passions. Affection for God is not measured by the quantity of one’s suffering alone, but by one’s adoration of Christ, for Christ is ultimate, not suffering. To that end, we do not seek to out-do one another with Christianized horror stories of loss or tragedy — as if having been in trouble or pain is de facto the stuff of high status — nor by checking to see who has the greater Christian war stories; instead we have the Bible, and we tell each other about Jesus, the Physician. And together we adore him. Suffering administered through the providence and care of the Holy Spirit leads to the adoration of Christ. Suffering that does not now give way to the adoration of Christ is but a foretaste of unending suffering.
We do comfort one another in our suffering, and we do acknowledge the pain that wracks bodies and wrecks lives, and we do talk of these things together. We need each other. We do have personal histories of pain, and along with God, we care about the particulars. But our stories are measured. For of greater relevance is the beauty of the Comforter who applies balm to our souls. The greater story is the news of Christ who overshadows the next inevitable wound that reminds us the word is dead and dying. The Devil would have us to concentrate on the wound, and not the Doctor.