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Suffering. It’s a word we don’t want to be associated with. Perhaps it’s a word we cast off because we don’t think that Christian suffering applies to us.
As a Christian, we expect God to keep us safe, secure and without suffering.
Where did we pick up these thoughts? Why do we feel surprised when something tough knocks at our door?
Was it from Adam and Eve in the Garden? We know pride (and Satan) led them to the forbidden fruit and the temptation to taste and see the world as God did.
But didn’t it cross their minds that to disrespect the command of God might get them in trouble? They had walked and talked with God, so maybe they couldn’t anticipate God actually disciplining them.
I’m thinking of my own kids right now. My husband and I have rules, but how many times does a child step over the boundary and not realize the suffering they will experience by their own blatant disrespect?
God warns us in His word that pain and suffering are part of life.
Why We Need Suffering?
And yet as humans, we avoid pain, am I right?
We might endure pain because we know there’s a positive or beneficial outcome. For women, we have endured the pain of childbirth more than one time because that baby at the end makes a difference.
But what about the pain that we can’t see any benefit from?
The honest truth is none of want to hear this: it’s easier to grasp an easy care-free life where we’re successful and pain-free.
We know as Christians that God uses everything for His good.
But trusting God when life is hard is a difficult prospect.
I’ve been studying about suffering because, honestly, I’m a whiner to God. I.just.don’t.like.it.
I can endure pain for a short time frame, but then I’m at my wit’s end. I want relief. When God doesn’t swoop in and remove it, I’m at a loss.
SOS, Jesus! Remove this!
21 After preaching the Good News in Derbe and making many disciples, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.
It’s easy to trust God when life is easy, but trusting God when it’s hard is the way to grow some muscles in our faith. Pain causes us to trust and depend on Him in ways we couldn’t with an easy, pain-free life.
What is the Purpose of Christian Suffering?
Our Christian life is a call to suffering. To be like Jesus is to suffer. Jesus tells us we are to expect suffering not as “maybe” situation, but a “guaranteed” situation.
Jesus became glorified through His suffering, death, and Resurrection and His reward was glory and honor through it.
If suffering= glory. When the hard and painful happen, why do we feel surprised?
In the Bible, whenever we see the Apostles suffering, we see huge advancements in the spread of the Gospel.
(Acts 8:1, NLT). Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen.
A great wave of persecution began that day, sweeping over the church in Jerusalem; and all the believers except the apostles were scattered through the regions of Judea and Samaria.
And then notice this
(Acts 8:4-7, NLT). 4 But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went. 5 Philip, for example, went to the city of Samaria and told the people there about the Messiah. 6 Crowds listened intently to Philip because they were eager to hear his message and see the miraculous signs he did. 7 Many evil spirits were cast out, screaming as they left their victims. And many who had been paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
While suffering was happening, so was the expansion of faith.
It’s happening today too. Human suffering causes the expansion of the Gospel. Our personal struggling has the potential to expand His Word.
How God Uses Our Pain?
If we desire to be more like Christ; then He needs to send us to the school of hard knocks. We can be encouraged because God uses our hard times for these results:
Our faith grows through challenges. We can have a lot of knowledge about God, but when push comes to shove we need to apply it to our life. Need patience? God sends us a situation which grows the patience.
Pride, selfishness, and self-reliance; all these negative qualities and lots more, need to work themselves out so we can grow the fruits of the Spirit instead. Suffering prefects us.
Our pain and suffering breaks our hearts and creates a space of compassion and a capacity to love others who are in pain and battling their own trials and tough times. We can minister to them because we know how pain and suffering feels. Pain draws us together.
Patiently persevering pleases God. What God saves us to suffer; to glorify Him through the pain? How else could we grow, transform, and become dependent on Him for everything?
Thankful for Suffering?
6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
Want to know how to be great in God’s kingdom? Accept, persevere, and endure through all the hard times. As you suffer, you are becoming more like Christ, bringing more glory to Him, and God is using you to minister to others.