Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8)
This is God’s universal purpose for all Christian suffering: more contentment in God and less satisfaction in self and the world. I have never heard anyone say, “The really deep lessons of life have come through times of ease and comfort.”
But I have heard strong saints say, “Every significant advance I have ever made in grasping the depths of God’s love and growing deep with Him has come through suffering.”
The pearl of greatest price is the glory of Christ.
Thus, Paul stresses that in our sufferings the glory of Christ’s all-sufficient grace is magnified. If we rely on Him in our calamity and He sustains our “rejoicing in hope,” then He is shown to be the all-satisfying God of grace and strength that He is.
If we hold fast to Him “when all around our soul gives way,” then we show that He is more to be desired than all we have lost.
Christ said to the suffering apostle, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul responded to this: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10).
So suffering clearly is designed by God not only as a way to wean Christians off of self and onto grace, but also as a way to spotlight that grace and make it shine. That is precisely what faith does; it magnifies Christ’s future grace. The deep things of life in God are discovered in suffering.
So it was with Jesus Himself: “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). The same book where we read this also tells us that Jesus never sinned (4:15).
So “learning obedience” does not mean switching from disobedience to obedience. It means growing deeper and deeper with God in the experience of obedience. It means experiencing depths of yieldedness to God that would not have been otherwise demanded.
Desiring God, Multnomah Books (Colorado Springs, CO), pages 265–267