Suffering and the Christian
Suffering is a very real issue in the body of Christ. It’s something that affects everyone in one way or another. It may come in the form of financial hardship, physical problems, relationships and a myriad of other things.
Jacob, though very prosperous, went through so much in his life that he cried out in genesis 42:36, “All these things are against me.” This is an issue that is seldom addressed in the body of Christ. Peter wrote an entire book in the Bible about it. In fact, there is at least one verse in every chapter in 1 Peter dealing specifically with suffering.
Suffering Results in Praise and Glory
1 Peter 1:7 – “Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations: The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”
Peter states that as we endure suffering in life it will result in praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus. Wow! Think of it, when Jesus returns He will give you praise and honor and glory for enduring trials and suffering in this life.
James says we will be rewarded with the crown of life (James 1:12). Paul says, we are joint heirs with Christ “if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together with Him.” Most fail to mention this phrase in the context with our being joint heirs with Christ. He goes on to say “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed” (Romans 8:17-18).
Suffering is an Acceptable Offering to God
1 Peter 2:20 – “What glory is it, if, when you be buffeted for your faults, you shall take it patiently? But if, when you do well, and suffer for it, you take it patiently, this is acceptable (finds favor) with God.”
We know that we are accepted in God’s sight because of our standing and relationship with Jesus (Ephesians 1:6). However, God seems to have a special favor toward, followers of Jesus, who go through times of sufferings. If you are going through a time of suffering, it’s like an acceptable offering with God. You have found and come into a place of special favor with God.
Suffering is a Special Calling
When God appeared to Ananias, after Paul met Jesus on the Damascus road, God said of Paul, “For I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). Wow, what a calling! How many would like to have a calling from God like that?
Paul’s life proved to be such (2 Corinthians 4:7-18, 11:23-28). You may wonder why you are going through the things you are. It may just be because he can trust you.
When we Suffer we Follow Jesus’ Example
1 Peter 2:21 – “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow His steps.”
1 John 2:6 – “He that says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk even as he walked.”
We talk of following Jesus’ example but seldom mention this aspect. You are following the example of Christ when you remain faithful to Him during times of trial and suffering.
We are Blessed When we Suffer
In 1 Peter 3:14, Peter says when we suffer for righteousness sake we are blessed. We don’t normally think of suffering as a blessing. James says, “We count them happy (blessed) that endure” (James 5:10-11).
He goes on to use Job as an example. Job went through a major time of physical suffering, as well as losing everything. One of the reasons he went through what he did was because God could trust him. God actually boasted of Job before Satan (Job 2). Can God trust us?
Job continued to trust God in all he went through. He said at one point, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15). At the end of His suffering in Job 42:10 he says, “The Lord restored Job’s losses, twice as much as he had before.”
There is an Anointing When we Suffer
1 Peter 4:14 – “When you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rest upon you.”
There is a special anointing that rest upon the lives of those that suffer for His sake. Paul says when we go through things in life it equips us to ministers to those who may be going through something similar (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
After a time suffering and difficulties, the Spirit of God rests upon your life in a way that you never could have experienced without it.
Suffering Brings Stability
1 Peter 5:10 – “May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”
When we are in the middle of a trial we may feel like we are about to fall apart and buckle under the pressure. It’s during these times that we are actually brought down to the very bedrock of our faith. As a result, we come to a place where our faith is unshakable.
It’s interesting that this verse says, “the God of all grace.” It’s an act of divine grace (favor) that allows us to go through times of suffering. In 2 Corinthians 12:10 during Paul’s thorn in his flesh, God told him His grace was sufficient for him. Also note this verse says, “after that you have suffered a while.”
Real and lasting stability only comes after we have gone through a time of suffering.
Prayer: “Lord help us to endure and continue to trust you in all we may be going through. Help us not to quit or become faint hearted but to remain faithful to you. In Jesus name, amen.”