Understanding Christian Suffering
- Suffering is as much of an opportunity as salvation.
Out of all things in life, it gives us the most perfect chance to become like the Lord Jesus Christ. Our faith produces perseverance.
Philippians 1:29 “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;”
- Chance to become more like Jesus.
The Bible teaches that Jesus suffered on our behalf so that we can earn to follow Jesus’ footsteps.
1 Peter 2:21 “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:”
- Our own suffering can never amount to the suffering that Jesus went through.
Hebrews 12:2-4 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”
- Lost people don’t have this promise of God working your sufferings for good.
If there was no god, then our life would be worse because we’re going to be like every lost person in the fallen world who’s going through that suffering.
Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
A lost person does not have God in his life and if God did not exist, that doesn’t erase our suffering, we will still go through the same mess. We should be very grateful concerning our suffering because God promised that it would work together for good.
Forms Of Suffering in the Christian Life
1 Thessalonians 5:14 “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.”
Philippians 4:12 “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
Hebrews 2:18 “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”
Hebrews 13:3 “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”
- Any trouble in life
2 Corinthians 4:17 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”
Accepting Suffering in the Christian Faith
- Christian life is full of suffering
2 Timothy 3:12 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
Are you willing to accept the struggles and pain that you’re going through? If we don’t, we will live in fear and hurt.
- Satan is not the cause of our suffering
Who allowed Satan to cause suffering is God Almighty who gave the permission.
If we realize that even though Satan hates us and is attacking us, there’s peace at the same time because we know that God allowed it, God permitted it because He’s trying to work it for something better. He knows our limitations and He knows the ultimate victory we can get at the end.
- God’s plan for us includes sufferings
God has great plans for us before we got saved and it includes suffering.
Acts 9:16 “For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
- Suffering is joyful
When we accept suffering, we got to accept it with pure joy and that’s one of the hardest things we can ever do in life when we’re feeling the pain.
1 Peter 4:14-16 “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”
Reasons For Suffering for Jesus Christ
Christians suffer sometimes as a result of chastisement. Notice that in John 5:14, this person was in pain, suffering because he was sinning so God punished him.
John 5:14 “Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.”
Numbers 12:10 “And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.”
2 Chronicles 16:12 “And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.”
- Sins of others
If we think that ‘I’m going to bear the consequences of my sin’, we’re very selfish when we adamantly, stubbornly sin against God. We have no idea our sin is going to cost someone else to suffer or break so many hearts of others because of our stubbornness.
Romans 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”
Exodus 20:5 “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;”
- Satanic attack
The closer we get to God, the closer we’ll get to the devil.
Luke 13:16 “And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?”
- Glory of God
God’s miracle is proven when there are first hopelessness, loss, and tragedy. When He intervenes then we realize how powerful and great God is. His power is more magnified when there is tragedy, pain, and hardship.
John 9:2-3 “And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
John 11:4 “When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”
Purpose Of Suffering
- Prove that we are a Christian
a. Persecuted for doing right
2 Timothy 3:12 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
Hebrews 12:8 “But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”
- To produce holiness
Because of the suffering, it makes us more worthy, it produces more holiness
2 Thessalonians 1:5 “Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:”
- Make fruit
Psalms 126:5 “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”
- Mature and test our character
James 1:2-3 “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”
- To have the power of Christ
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
- Increase heavenly-mindedness
The more that we see the gloominess of this world, the more we see the glamour of heaven.
Romans 8:18-19 “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”
James 1:12 “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”
2 Timothy 2:12 “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:”
- Benefit another
2 Corinthians 1:6 “And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”
- Perfect us
1 Peter 5:10 “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
Response To Suffering
- We may despise it
Job 6:4 “For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me.”
Job 6:9 “Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off!”
- We may faint from it
Ephesians 3:13 “Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.”
- We may dislike it
We think that this is a normal response if something bad happens but that is still wrong.
1 Peter 4:16 “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”
- We may bear it
This is our lowest right response. We may put up with it but it just builds up a lot of stress but at least we got the right response where we don’t get bitter and mad at God.
1 Peter 2:20 “For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.”
- We may rejoice in it
This is the highest level of right response we can ever reach and this is not something that can just happen all of a sudden. It takes so much spiritual maturity and journeying between God and us.
1 Peter 4:13 “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”
Suggestions During Christian Sufferings
Remember that the worst sufferings for a Christian is better than the best pleasure of life.
Hebrews 11:25 “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;”
We should read the Bible because it is very comforting.
Job and Psalms are the best ones from Old Testament, 1 Peter is the best one for New Testament (Pastor Gene’s opinion).
Romans 15:4 “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
Pray to the Lord because He will regard the prayer of the destitute.
Psalms 102:17 “He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.”
Assure ourselves by leaving everything in the well-doing of God.
1 Peter 4:19 “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”
Tell ourselves that we are on the right path when we are still persecuted.
Galatians 5:11 “And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.”
Suffering reminds us to mightily comfort others.
2 Corinthians 1:4 “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
Keep serving God because it’s going to encourage others who are suffering.
1 Peter 3:7 “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”