did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? [galatians 3:4]


in vain


this word means without a cause or purpose, for nothing. if suffering this way is in vain, then this section is pointing to the cause and purpose of suffering. what is happening in vain? in verses 1-3, and continuing in the chapter, paul is calling out the galatians for errantly attributing undue credit for our growth, salvation, and sanctification to works of the law, to labors of the flesh—credit that is rightly given only to Christ’s atoning work on the cross. suffering with a purpose, then, points us to the sufficiency, entirety, and finality of the blood of Christ. suffering is supposed to drive us to our knees in recognition that Christ supplies the only water, the only bread, the only freedom! 

does suffering remind you of the sufficiency of Christ, or make you think you need to work harder?

Lord, forgive us for trusting in our work and our flesh to bring us into Your presence, Your favor, and into bearing Your fruit. show us where we have allowed suffering to drive us to trust in ourself, rather than in You. teach us to suffer for You; may our suffering not be in vain! teach us to rejoice in every trial, that it may build an enduring trust in You for our identity, our fruit, and our security.

~ stephen hall