WHY DO CHRISTIANS SUFFER?
By John Henry
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Scripture - Romans 8:18-39
Reality Of Suffering
Realization Of Suffering
Reasons For Suffering
Reassurances To Suffering Christians
Reactions To Suffering
Requisites To Suffering
Results Of Suffering
Relief From Suffering
"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. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered form the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole Creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for it? But we hope for what we see not, the3n do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the ;mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 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. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He judtified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared ;not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemeth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or swored? As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angles, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
At one time or another most, if not all, Christians ask: “Why does our loving and all powerful God allow His people to suffer so?” We will not have the complete answer to this question this side of Heaven, but the Bible, God’s infallible Word, does shed much light on the reasons why Believers suffer, and reassures us that everything will work out for our eternal good. From Romans chapter 8 we learn that the sufferings of this life can not be compared with our future glory (8:18), and that all things in this life, including, suffering, work together of our ultimate good (8:28-30). The Bible provides many of the reasons why God allows Believers to suffer “tribulation” (pressures on both body and soul), “distress” (anguish of all kinds), poverty (“famine” and “nakedness”), “peril” (danger), “persecution” (unjust treatment), and even the “sword” of the executioner (8:35). Many think that when they receive the Lord Jesus Christ all their problems are over, but God never said that Believers would not suffer problems in this life. The Lord Jesus did say:
“In the World ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the World” (John 16:33).
Our text in Romans says that “in all these things [tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, and sword] we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (8:37). In this life we will suffer, but “all things [trouble and pain of all kinds] work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called …” (8:28). Christians must keep this principal in mind: short term suffering works for our long term good!
God issues many “calls” to Believers in His Word. Among them are: 1) the call to repentance (Luke 5:32), 2) the call to salvation or sonship (John 1:12; Romans 8:28-30), 3) the call to sanctification or holiness (I Thessalonians 4;3-7), 4) the call to separation from unbelievers and false religion (II Corinthians 6:14-18; Revelation 18:4), 5) the call to Christian fellowship (I Corinthians 1:9; Hebrews 10:24-25), 6), the call to peace (Colossians 3:15), 7) the all important call to love and compassion (I Peter 3:8-9), 8) the call to Christian service (Ephesians 2:10), and yes, there is 9) the call to suffering (I Peter 2:19-21; Philippians 1:29), and last, but certainly not least, there is 10) the wonderful call to glory (I Peter 5:10; II Peter 1:3; Romans 8:29-30; I Thessalonians 2:12). The Lord issues all these calls in His Word, which reveals His purpose, to “the called according to His purpose” or in other words, to those who believe God’s Word. Just as surely as God has called all Believers to sonship, peace, fellowship, holiness, love, service, and glory, He has also called us to suffering!
“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. ... For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” (1 Peter 2:19, 21)
The Lord willingly suffered wrongfully, because of our sin and because the world is temporally in the hands of Satan. We suffer wrongfully because the world is still full of sinners manipulated by Satan and his angels.
The fact of the matter is that we will be in and out of trouble all our earthly lives! Suffering is a normal part of life, and no one is smart enough, rich enough, or powerful enough to escape from suffering and trouble. The secret to life, in this World is not learning how to get out and stay out of trouble, but learning how to “be of good cheer,” and become “more than conquers through [Jesus Christ]” while we are actually in trouble and suffering (John 16:33; Romans 8:37).
In this study of why Christians suffer we will examine 1) the reality of suffering, 2) the realization of God in suffering, 3) the reasons why we suffer, 4) the reactions of those in suffering, 5) the requisites for those in suffering, 6) the reassurances of God for those in suffering, 7) the results of suffering, and 8) the relief from suffering.
REALITY OF SUFFERING
"For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." (Romans 8:20-22)
The Biblical Definition of Suffering:
First let's look at what suffering is not:
1. Biblical suffering is not the self imposed pain or penance of the Catholics, Moslems, and Hindus who suppose that such folly will in some way gain them religious merit.
2. Suffering isn't Maya (illusion) as taught by the Hindus, the New Age Movement, and the Christian Science cult (which is neither Science nor Christian). Pain, heart ache, and suffering are real, not illusion! Suffering is not cured by meditation, nor wishing it away with faith in faith, nor by eventually, after many reincarnations, loosing one's personal identity by being absorbed into the Cosmos. All these false beliefs are foolishness! Suffering is real!
3. Suffering is not, as is taught in Buddhism, individual existence or being. The "enlightened" Buddha said: "There is ... nothing whatsoever which is permanent, fixed, lasting, not subject to decay, forever remaining the same. There is ... no sensation ... no perception ..., on consciousness whatsoever which is permanent ..." (Samyutta-kikaya 3:147). Buddha concludes: "What do you think ..., is the body permanent or impermanent? ... Are the sensations ..., perception ..., consciousness, permanent or impermanent? Impermanent, Sir. That which is impermanent, is it sorrowful or joyful? Sorrowful, Sir. Is it right then to regard the impermanent, sorrowful, subject to the law of decay, as 'This is mine, this am I, this is myself?' Surely not, Sir" (Majjhima-nikaya 1:138). Buddha also said: "Now this ... is the noble truth of the cessation of pain [i. e. birth, sickness, sorrow, dejection, despair, death, rebirth]: the cessation without a remainder of that craving, abandonment, forsaking, release, non-attachment" (Sayutta-nikaya 5:420). In short Buddha taught 1) Man is impermanent, 2) impermanence is sorrowful, 3) cessation from pain, sorrow, and suffering is gained by abandonment of craving, and forsaking self. Being and suffering, to Buddha, are inseparable, and basically one and the same. Put another way: The root of Man's suffering is his existence as a personalized individual. The truth of the matter, however, according to the Word of God is: 1) people are permanent souls (Genesis 2:7; Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:46), 2) sin is the root of sorrow, not being (Genesis 3), 3) there is consciousness apart from sorrow and pain (Revelation 21:4), and 4) there is a person who is permanent, fixed, lasting, not subject to decay, forever remaining the same (Psalm 90:2; 102:25-27; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8).
What suffering is:
Properly defined suffering is 1) loss of position (i.e. Adam's fall), 2) pain of body (i.e. Eve in child bearing), 3) rejection, 4) anxiety, 5) sickness, 6) persecution and injustice, 7) grief, 8) disappointment, 9) pangs of conscience (that will hopefully lead to repentance), and 10) punishment (i.e. in Hell).
According to the Word of God suffering, both physical pain and mental anguish, is the result of Adam and Eve's original sin, and is furthermore the result of individual sin (Genesis 3:16-19; Galatians 6:7-8). It is the natural result of God's curse on Creation for Man's sin. God created a perfect Universe, but Man's sin brought God's curse (entropy) which introduced: pain, sorrow, sickness, dejection, suffering, and finally death. All these are the results of sin!
The Universality of Suffering:
Just as sin is universal in the Human Race so likewise is suffering. Righteous Job said:
"Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble" (Job 14:1).
Suffering, degeneration, and death was brought upon Mankind and all Creation by the sin (disobedience to God) of Adam. The original sin of Adam and Eve brought God's curse (the Law of Energy Decay or the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics as it is know in science) into the Universe. Now all Creation is "subject to vanity ... corruption ... and travaileth in pain ..." (Romans 8:20-22). Adam and Eve disobeyed God's only "thou shalt not" command before "The Fall" (Genesis 2:17). God warned Adam that if he ate of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil ... [that he would] surely die" (Genesis 2:17). Eve was aware of God's command, because she said to Satan concerning it: "God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, least ye die" (Genesis 3:3). However, when tempted by Satan "she took the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat" (Genesis 3:6). Eve was "beguiled" by Satan (Genesis 3:13; II Corinthians 11:3), whereas Adam was willfully disobedient in his transgression against God (Romans 5:12-19). Their disobedience to God brought sorrow, degeneration, sin, and death upon themselves and all their descendants (Genesis 3:16-20; Romans 5:17-19). "And unto Adam [God] said, Because thou hast harkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shall thou eat of it all the days of thy life ... till thou return unto the ground; for out of it was thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living." (Genesis 3:17, 19, 20, cf. 2:7)
Eve is "the mother of all living," and Job got it right when he said: "Mans that is born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble" (Genesis 3:20; Job 14:1). All people are "born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7). It is not difficult to understand why there is so much depression, drug and alcohol abuse, insanity, and suicide in this World: There is absolutely no hope without Jesus Christ! Lost people have a life full of trouble, pain, and sorrow, and if that does not drive them into the arms of God before they finally die they will suffer unimaginable torment and eternal suffering in Hell. Suffering is universal: all suffer. The only difference is the length and degree of suffering.
REALIZATION OF SUFFERING
“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. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:28-29)
There are certain things that we must realize and always keep in mind about our great God. What is it that we must “know” about God when we are suffering?
1. God is perfect: “He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgement: a God of Truth, and without iniquity, just and right is He.” (Deuteronomy 32:4) God is always just and right even when we are suffering!
2. God is loving: “God is love.” (I John 4:8, 16) “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” (Romans 3:11) “We love Him, because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19) Without God’s love we could never be saved.
The definition of God’s love: God’s kind of love is translated from the Greek word “agape.” It is translated both “charity,” and “love.” God’s love is defined thusly: “Charity suffereth long [is forbearing and not given to hasty anger], and is kind; charity envieth not [is not moved by want of personal gain or desire]; charity vauntteth not itself [is not boastful], is not puffed up [conceited], doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil [does not keep a record of wrongs suffered]; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in Truth; beareth all things, believeth all things [knows that all tings work together for good], hopeth all things [desires the best), endureth all things. Charity never faileth ...” (I Corinthians 13:4-8; cf. I Peter 4:8; Ephesians 3:17-19; Romans 5:8).
3. God is in control: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in His way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.” (Psalm 37:23-24) The “good man” here is a saved man who delights in God’s “way” of salvation. There is no such thing as chance in the life of a saved person. His “steps ... are ordered by the LORD.” God either allows or directly causes everything that happens in the lives of His children, and “we know that all things work together for good” in the lives of God children (Romans 8:28).
4. God is with us: “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy by thy name; thou art Mine. When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.” (Isaiah 43:1-3) God goes with us through the waters, and fire of our suffering.
5. Christ can empathize with our suffering: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…He was despised…But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him…He was oppressed, and was afflicted…” (Isaiah 53:3, 4, 5, 7) God does not have mere sympathy for us, He does not just know about suffering; he has experienced suffering first hand, the Lord Jesus can empathize with us in our suffering Hebrews 2:18, 4:15, 5:2).
If a Believer fails to get these 5 facts down in his mind and heart he will be bogged down all his Christian life. He will blame God, and sin which will being more suffering. A saved person's refusal to accept the following 5 facts will bring even greater suffering upon himself: 1) God is always just and right even when He allows us to suffer, 2) God is loving and suffering is for our own good, 3) God either causes or allows brief suffering for our long term good, 4) God goes with us in our suffering, 5) God knows all about suffering, He has been there.
Christians are called and predestined to suffer in order to conform us to the image of His Son:
“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. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:28-29)
A few things that this passage teaches, and some it refutes:
1. It teaches “that all things (both good and bad, tranquility and tribulation, ease and distress, peace and persecution, safety and peril, prosperity and poverty, happiness and suffering, life and death) work together for good to them that love God ...”
2. It refutes the “Health and Wealth Gospel” of the Pentecostals and Charismatics which teaches that it is not God’s will for His people to have problems and suffer. This will become more and more clear as we continue our study. The “Health and Wealth Gospel, “which is not ... the Gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-9; I Corinthians 15:1-4) is taught in many “Full Gospel Churches.” Their false “gospel” is just another heresy to add to the long list of Pentecostal heresies (i.e. the gifts of prophecy, tongues, that one can lose eternal life, ecumenicalism, etc.)
3. It teaches that Believes are “predestined to be conformed to the image of (Jesus Christ),” and this conformation involves suffering. What does it mean to be "conformed to the image of [Jesus]?” It means to become more and more like the Lord Jesus. It means to be “renewed in knowledge after the image of [Jesus Christ]” (Colossians 3:10; cf. II Corinthians 3:18). And what is the Lord Jesus like? The Lord Jesus Christ is:
* Holy (Colossians 3:12; I John 3:5; I Peter 1:13-16).
* Merciful (Colossians 3:12; Matthew 5:7).
* Kind (Colossians 3:12).
* Humble (Colossians 3:12).
* Meek (Colossians 3:12; Matthew 5:5, 11:28-30).
* Longsuffering (Colossians 3:12; II Peter 3:9: I Peter 2:19-21).
* Forbearing (Colossians 3:13).
* Forgiving (Colossians 3:3).
* Loving (Colossians 3:14; Romans 5:8; I John 4:7-8; I Peter 4:8).
* Peaceful (Colossians 3:15; Matthew 5:9; Romans 10:15).
* Thankful (Colossians 3:15).
4. It refutes the false doctrine that some people are predestined to Heaven, and the rest are predestined to suffer in Hell. If taken to it’s logical conclusion this is what Calvinism teaches. Romans 8:29 says that God predestines believers “to be conformed to the image of of His Son.” It does not say that God predestines anyone to Hell. Why do we disagree with the Protestant doctrine of Unconditional Election? Because there is a condition to election: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). God knew who would receive the free gift of salvation in Christ Jesus and be saved before the foundation of the World and chose on that basis (John 1:12, 3:36, 14:6, 16:7-11, 17:17; I Corinthians 2:9-12; Titus 3:5-6; Ephesians 1:4). Saved folks are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit” (I Peter 1:2). The one and only condition to election to salvation is receiving Jesus Christ by faith. It is clear that the lost perish, “because they receive not the Truth, that they might be saved,” and they are all “damned who believe not the Truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness;” but ““God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the Truth” (II Thessalonians 2:10, 12, 13; cf. II Peter 3:9; I Peter 1:18-23; John 3:18-21, 14:6; 17:17). We have a just, good and loving God!
REASONS FOR SUFFERING
“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 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. For even hereunto were ye called ...” (I Peter 2:19-21).
From this passage we can see two categories of suffering: 1) suffering for our faults (sins), and 2) suffering even when we do well. These are the two main categories of suffering. All the reasons for suffering in our lives fall into these two categories. What then are the reasons for our suffering?
1. To Recruit Us (Salvation):
God uses problems, difficulties, and suffering in our lives to drive us into His arms. A few examples:
* The Philippian jailer, for fear of His superiors because he thought the prisoners in his charge had escaped, was about to kill himself when Paul said, “we are all here” and then led him to Christ (Acts 16:23-34)
* A “nobleman, whose son was sick,” was distressed for fear that his child might die trusted Christ in his mental anguish (John 4:46-53)
* There was “a woman of Canaan” whose “daughter [was] grievously vexed with a devil” (Matthew 15:21-28)
* Also “a woman having an issue of blood twelve years” that trusted Christ in her suffering (Luke 8:43:48)
* Then there was another “woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could not lift up” (Luke 13:11-13)
* Naaman, "the captain of the host of the King of Syria, ... [who] was a leper” also believed (II Kings 5:1-15)
* Jacob because pain of conscience and fear of Esau (Genesis 32:9-32)
* Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:19-21)
All these came to God through anguish and suffering. In my own life it was through the seeming meaninglessness of life after the loss of a loved one that drove into the arms of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
2. To Ready Us (Teach):
“It is good for me that I was afflicted; that I mighty learn Thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:71).
What do we learn through suffering? Suffering teaches us:
* Obedience: “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy Word…I know, O LORD, that Thy judgementns are right, and and that Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.” (Psalm 119:67, 75)
* Purity: “The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.” (Proverbs 17:3; cf. Malachi 3:3). “Rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness (sorrow) through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour…” (I Peter 1:6-7) God’s tests are always constructive in their intention.
* Patience: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of yur faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect (mature) and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:2-4; cf. II Corinthians 6:3-10; II Peter 1:5-7)
* Compassion: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all mercies, and the God of all comfort; 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. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our comsolation (comfort) also aboundeth in Christ.” (II Corinthians 1:3-5; cf. 6:4-5) Suffering helps us to have empathy for others in trouble so we can better help them. The Word of God tells us: “Bear ye one another’s burdens,and so fulfil the Law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2; cf. Romans 12:15; 15:1-2). What is “Law of Christ?” Jesus said: “This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12; cf. I John 4:21; I Thessalonians 4:9).
3. To Refine Us (Produce Fruit):
Jesus said: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth ;not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vind: no more cand ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me Ye can do nothing.” (John 15:1-5)
In order to produce a good crop of grapes every vineyard must be tended by an expert husbandman who knows how and when to fertilize, water, and prune (purge) it to produce the best crop. The spiritual vineyard is tended by our Heavenly Father, who knows best how to train and develop the personality of His children for their own good, and so that they might win others to Christ. Pruning is the very important in tending the vineyard. In the early spring vineyards look like a collection of bleeding stumps; but in the fall they are filled with luxuriant grapes. There are two main reasons for pruning: 1) trim away the dead wood which harbors insects and disease, and can cause the branch to rot, 2) live wood must be cut back to prevent such heavy growth that the life of the vine goes into the branch and leaves, rather than into the fruit. The Lord Jesus Christ is the main vine, who supports the life of every branch. Believes are totally dependent on Christ for their eternal life, and their spiritual fruit and service. Suffering painful pruning produces fruit “if [we] abide [remain united in heart, mind, and will] in [Christ], and [His] words abide in [us through hearing, reading, studying, and memorizing it] ...” (John 15:7; cf. I John 2:6, 24, 28, 3:24; II Timothy 2:15; Psalm 1:1-2, 119:11). Fruit will be produced in the life of a Believer if he will only abide. Suffering cultivates and produces:
The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23): The fruit of the Spirit is:
- Love (II Peter 1:7).
- Joy (Colossians 1:11).
- Peace (Colossians 3:14-15).
- Longsuffering (Colossians 3:12)
- Gentleness (Colossians 3:12-13; James 3:17).
- Goodness (Ephesians 5:9).
- Faith (II Peter 1:5).
- Meekness (Colossians 3:12).
- Temperance (II Peter 1:6).
The fruit of service to God (I Corinthians 3:5-15): The fruit of Spirit produces “good works” (Ephesisns 2:10; Hebrews 10:24; Titus 2:7, 14, 3:8, 14; I Peter 2:12; I Timothy 5:25). Believers should “learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful” (Titus 3:14).
The fruit reproduction (I Corinthians 3:8-9; Mark 4:14-20; Psalm 126:5-6): The ultimate fruit of good works is to get folks saved. The fruit of a Christian is another Christian. Winning people to is the #1 priority both for the individual Christian (Matthew 4:19; Jude 22-23; Romans 11:14; I Corinthians 7:16), and for the local church collectively (II Corinthians 5:20; Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:4, 8, 13:1-5; Romans 10:14-15; Hebrews 10:24-25). Those who we will be our “crown of rejoicing…in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming” (I Thessalonians 2:19-20; cf. Philippians 4:1). “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30, cf. 14:25; Daniel 12:3)
4. To Rectify Us (Chastening):
“For the time is come that judgement must begin at the House of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the be of them that obey not the Gospel of God?” (I Peter 4:17)
“But if ye be without chastening, where of all are partakers, the are ye bastards, and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:8)
Jesus said: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Revelation 3:19)
"For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." (I Corinthians 11:30-32)
What kinds of chastening are there in store for erring sons of God?
* Many Are Weak And Sickly (I Corinthians 11:30):
“Is any sick among you? Let him call the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed any sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed ...” (James 5:14-16)
If we are ill then we ought to confess our wrongs to the ones we have sinned against (this always includes God). After we get right with them then we should ask our pastor(s) and local church to pray for us.
* Many Sleep (I Corinthians 11:30):
Because many saved folks refuse to repent the Lord calls them home prematurely. This is called “a sin unto death.” The Lord will not tolerate the continuance of children in gross willful sin!
"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." (Hebrews 10:26-27)
“Brethren, if any of you do err from the Truth [fails to abide] and one converteth him [helps him to repent]; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:20; cf. John 15:1-5; Galatians 6:1-2)
“If any man see his brother sin as sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and He shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death. I do not say that he shall pray for it.” (I John 5:16)
Spiritual Believers ought to try to "restore such an one" who is "overtaken in a fault," but we are not to pray for those who are involved in constant willful sin (Galatians 6:1; Hebrews 10:26).
5. To Revive Us (Correct):
“LORD, in their trouble have they visited Thee, they poured out a prayer when chastening was upon them. Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in Thy sight, O LORD.” (Isaiah 26:16-17)
Suffering sometimes helps Believers to:
* Examine and judge ourselves (I Corinthians 11:28, 31).
* Confess our sins (I John 1:9): “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13; cf. Psalm 51)
* Pray (Psalm 32:3-7; cf. Luke 11:13).
* Learn (God’s) Statutes (Psalm 119:71).
* Keep (God’s) Word (Psalm 119:67).
6. To Recompense Us (Requite):
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap lofe eternal.” (Gelatians 6:7-8)
This is the natural law of sowing and reaping. It says that if one sins he reap a crop of corruption. The crop is always reaped well after it is sown, and the crop is always more than was sown.
7. To Rebuke Satan:
“And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan ...” (Zechariah 3:1-2)
Perhaps the best case in point of God allowing Satan to cause suffering in the life of a Believer to show Satan up for the snake he is, and prove the righteousness of the Believe is the case of patient and righteous Job (Ezekiel 14:14, 20; James 5:11). God had blessed Job with a large family (7 sons and 3 daughters), and wealth (Job 1:2-3).
“[Job] was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. ... Now there was a day when the sons of God [angels] came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them ... And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the Earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not Thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth Thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse Thee to Thy face. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. ...” (Job 1:1, 6-12)
At this Satan went forth and stole all his possessions, and murdered all his servants and children (Job 1:12-19).
And when Job heard of all this havoc “[he] arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down on the ground, and worshiped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” (Job 1:20-22)
“Again there was a day when ... Satan came ... before the LORD ... And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the Earth, a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? And still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst Me against him, to destroy him without cause. And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. Put forth Thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse Thee to Thy face. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown ... Then saith his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women spenketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.” (Job 2:1-10)
If we read the entire Book of Job we see that righteous Job was made even more righteous through all his sufferings (Job 42:1-6), and Satan was show up for the no good lying snake that he is, plus “the LORD turned the captivity of Job ... also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10). From the Book of Job we learn these facts:
* Righteousness can be maintained during suffering (Job 1:22, 2:10).
* No matter how server suffering is, it will pass, and everything will work out fine for those that trust God (Job 42:10-13).
* About Satan:
- He is the “adversary” (I Peter 5:8).
- He is “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10).
- He desires to “sift [Believers] as wheat” (Luke 22:31).
- He is a "liar" and there is no truth in him (Jon 8:44).
- He is “a murderer” (John 8:44).
8. To Reflect God’s Glory:
“[Christians] are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." (I Peter 1:5-9)
"For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 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. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps." (I Peter 2:19-21)
"But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit." (I Peter 3:14-18)
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 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. 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." (I Peter 4:12-16)
"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. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen!” (I Peter 5:10-11)
From these passages in First Peter we learn the following things about suffering and glory:
* The trial of our faith through suffering will hopefully produce praise and honor and glory at the second coming of Christ (I Peter 1:7, cf. 4:13, 5:10).
* God has called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, but first we must suffered for a short while in the here and now (I Peter 1:6, 5:10). Always keep in mind that the suffering will pass!
* There is no glory when we are buffeted for our faults (I Peter 2:20).
* If anyone suffers as a Christian for righteousness’ sake or for giving an answer for reason of the hope that is in you, don't be ashamed, but glorify God because of it (I Peter 3:14-15, 4:16; Matthew 5:9-10).
* It is a blessing to be reproached for the name of Christ, because the Spirit of glory and of God is upon all such (I Peter 4:14; cf. Matthew 5:11-12; John 14:26, 15:26, 16:13-14).
REASSURANCES TO SUFFERING CHRISTIANS
“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son that He might be the firstborn of many brethren.” (Romans 8:29)
“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. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? ” (Hebrews 12:3-7)
There are many reassurances for the Believer in suffering. Among the are:
1. Restoration Is Guaranteed:
Suffering as a result of both testing (suffering without having sinned) and chastening (suffering because of sin) has nothing whatsoever to do with loosing one’s salvation.
“But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” (I Corinthains 11:32)
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ ... If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon he shall receive reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.” (I Corinthians 3:11, 14, 15)
Both of the passages from I Corinthians refer to suffering: First (11:32) refers primarily to physical suffering in this life on Earth because of sin unrepented of (cf. I Corinthians 11:28-31). Secondly (3:11-15) refers to suffering shame at the Judgement Seat of Christ because we failed at God’s testing and chastening when on Earth (cf. Romans 14:8-12; II Corinthians 5:8-11; II Timothy 2:15; I John 2:28). There is no such thing as falling from God’s saving grace, or being unborn after having been born again (John 3:3-7; I Peter 1:23; Titus 3:4-6). Eternal life that can be lost is not “eternal, or “everlasting” (John 3:14-16, 36, 10:27-28, I John 2:25, 5:11, 13, 20). What does the Bible teach us concerning the security of born again believers in Christ:
* Christians ought to “know Whom [we] have believed, and [be] persuaded that He is able to keep that which [we] have committed unto Him against that day [of Christ’s appearing]” (II Timothy 1:12). “[Ye] may know that ye have eternal life ...” (I John 5:13).
* Jesus said: “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:28-28). “[Your] life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).
* Born again folks should be “persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angles ... nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
* Sin can cause the loss of the joy of one’s salvation, but not God’s salvation it’s self. After committing great sin King David was severely chastened by God, and he repented in Psalm 51. In David’s prayer of repentance he said: “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation ...” (Psalm 51:12). David did not ask God to restore salvation, but the joy of it. I remember the joy of my salvation when I first received Christ! Sin causes misery of heart in a true child of God, but cannot never cause the loss of salvation!
The suffering of the child of God, unlike the lost person, will pass.
“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.” (Romans 8:18)
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (II Corinthians 4:17).
Suffering is but for “a moment” (II Corinthians 4:17), “for a season” (I Peter 1:6), and for “a while” (I Peter 5:10). It is but a drop in a bucket as compared to eternity; and in this life “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). In this life each problem becomes but a vague memory in time, and when we go to be with God all pain trouble, and suffering “shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Isaiah 65:17). Suffering will pass!!!
2. Regulation Of Our Suffering Is Guaranteed:
God will not put more on us than He puts in us to bear it up. He sometimes helps Believers to get out of their troubles, and sometimes He lets us stay in our troubles, but He always enables us to bear it.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Corinthians 10:13)
“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations ...” (II Peter 2;9; cf. Psalms 34:17-19, 124:7-8).
3. Representation During Our Suffering:
Believers are represented before the Father: The Lord Jesus Christ intercedes for us: “... It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us.” (Romans 8:34; cf. Hebrews 2:18, 5:2, 7:25; I John 2:1; John 14:16).
We also have “another comforter ... even the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:16-17): “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. ” (Romans 8:26-27)
Not only are the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit for us but the Father also: "... If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? ..." ( Romans 8:31-34)
God is with us, and will bring us through our sufferings: Jesus said that “He goeth before [His sheep], and the sheep follow Him ...” (John 10:4). The Lord promises: “I [will] not forget thee” (Isaiah 49:15), and also: “I will be with thee ... through the fire” (Isaiah 43:2). The Lord went before Israel to lead and protect them when they made their exodus form Egypt (Exodus 13:21-22, 14:19-20). God was with Joseph even in prison (Genesis 39:21). The Son of God was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the great furnace of fire (Daniel 3:25). And the Lord went with Paul to the chopping block in Rome (Acts 23:11).
4. Reassurance of God’s love for us:
The Lord Jesus Christ said, “... as many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Revelation 3:19)
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.” (Hebrews 12:5)
A father usually does not discipline someone else’s children, but only his own beloved children. God’s chastening signifies His love for us.
“For whom the LORD loveth He correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” (Proverbs 3:12)
“He that spareth his rod hatet his son: but He that loveth him chastenet him betimes.” (Proverbs 13:24)
REACTIONS TO SUFFERING
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” (I Peter 4:12)
“There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Corinthians 10:13).
There are 3 reactions to suffering. They are 1) the initial normal shock, 2) negative, and 3) positive reactions.
Normal Reaction To Suffering:
Suffering and trouble send us into 7 normal and healthy stages toward recovery. It is very important not to get bogged down especially in steps 1 through 5. Some Christians crack up on stages 1 through 4, and many get stuck in 5. Don’t let it happen to you! The 7 stages of recovery are:
1. Shock (I can’t believe this has happened to me!)
2. Sorrowful questioning (God, why did you let this happen?).
3. Anger (God this isn’t right!).
4. Fear (Lord, will it get worse?).
5. Despair (I will never recover!). Many get bogged down here.
6. Searching (Lord, what lesson or benefit do You have for me through this suffering?). One needs to try to advance as quickly as he can to this stage.
7. Understanding (Yes Lord, now I see!).
Negative Reactions To Suffering:
Continuance in a negative response to suffering is a sin in it’s self. God gives the first step to recovery for negative reactions to suffering: “If we confess our sins (of depression, bitterness, worry, or excessive sorrow), He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9) The sins of depression, bitterness, worry, and excessive sorrow all result from not loving and trusting God. One who loves God will trust Him to work his suffering out for his good. "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." (Romans 8:28)
1. Depression: Many saved people while suffering fall in to depression. It may well be one of the worst afflictions in life. A Christian in despair is spiritually useless as long as he stays discouraged and depressed. Satan likes it that way (I Peter 5:8). Generally, but not always, depression is a spiritual problem. Many people spend a fortune on psychoanalysis, medication, and therapy without ever being helped. The depressed person sleeps a lot, takes little interest in his work, and vacillate between self-reproach and self-excuse. They feel worthless, and guilty. They feel tired all the time, and complain about aches and pains. And no wonder! Medical research shows that people who are prone to depression have more heart attacks, and have a higher rate of cancer than the population as a whole. The inner tension seems to interfere with natural functions of their bodies. The #1 cause of depression is failure to trust God!
2. Bitterness: Holding a grudge against someone, and failure to forgive is a grave problem. Many people get bitter with God for their suffering. Or with someone else for a wrong suffered. Satan loves it. The #1 cause of bitterness is failure to trust God!
3. Worry: In the fast pace pressure cooker world we live in there are financial problems, illness, family demands, tragedies, and a host of other troubles. Many people forget that God is in control and thus struggle to maintain emotional stability. The #1 cause of worry is failure to trust God!
4. Excessive Sorrow: The top 10 most stressful events in a persons life, according to research done at the University of Washington, are the death of a spouse, divorce, marital separation, jail term, death of a close family member, personal injury, marriage, fired at work, marital reconciliation, and retirement. There are many other stressful events on the list all having to do with family, health, responsibility, and financial problems. Research physician, Dr. Thomas Holmes, assigned “Life Changing Unit Points” to each “Stressful Event.” The point range from 100 for spousal death to 11 points for minor infractions of the law. The research showed that those with 150 to 300 “Life Changing Unit Points” with in a 12 month period have a 50 / 50 chance of suffering an illness from it, and a 25% chance of having an injury from an accident. The research shows that the greater the stress, the greater the possibility of illness and injury. Stress can cause sorrow and sorrow causes worry and depression, and these take their tole on the body and cause carelessness. Stress and sorrow are good for us, but excessive sorrow is a sin. The highest of Dr. Holmes’ 43 “stressful events” with their “Life Changing Points” are here listed:
* Death of a spouse (100 Points)
* Divorce (73 Points)
* Marital separation (65 Points)
* Jail term (63 Points)
* Death of close family member (63 Points)
* Personal injury or illness( 53 Points)
* Marriage (50 Points)
* Fired from job (47 Points)
* Marital reconciliation (45 Points)
* Retirement (45 Points)
* Change in health of family member (44 Points)
* Pregnancy (40 Points)
* Sex difficulties (39 Points)
* Gain of new family member (39 Points)
* Business readjustment (39 Points)
* Change in financial state (38 Points)
* Death of close friend (37 Points)
* Change to different line of work (36 Points)
* Change in number of arguments with spouse (35 Points)
* Mortgage over $10,000.00 (31 Points)
* Foreclosure (30 points)
* Trouble with in-laws (29 points)
* Trouble with boss (23 points)
* Various kinds of changes (15 to 29 points).
Correct Reaction To Suffering:
“...[K]now that all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28).
“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: than the trial of you faith, being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:6-7)
Always remember that God is good, and that your suffering is working towards your ultimate good (Romans 8:28; I Peter 1:7).
Compare your suffering to the glory which will follow (Romans 8:18; I Peter 1:7):
* We will one day receive an eternal and glorified body (I John 3:2; I Corinthians 15:51:54).
* “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” (I Corinthians 2:9)
* “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
* Know that the suffering will pass. It is just “for a season,” just for “a while” (I Peter 1:6, 5:10, cf. 1:24-25; James 4:14; Job 14:1-2; Psalm 102:9-12, 103:12-17).
Patiently endure: The suffering will pass!!! Don’t be a quitter. Put your face to the wind and press on. Don’t complain all the time, and don’t give up! The Lord looks more on how much it takes to make one quit, than on any greatness in him.
“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.” (I Peter 2:20)
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (II Timothy 2:3; cf. James 1:3)
Rejoice and thank God in your suffering: Be optimistic! Find out what the reason is for your suffering, and thank God for the training and testing. Thank Him for that pain, that difficulty, that loss. Ask yourself:
“Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why are thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall praise Him for the help of His countenance.” (Psalm 42:5)
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations ... Behold, we count them happy which endure.” (James 1:2, 5:11)
“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)
“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18; cf. Philippians 4:4-7; Matthew 5:10-12)
REQUISITES TO SUFFERING
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 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, 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 evil doer, 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. For the time is come that judgement must begin at the House of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and sinners appear? 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.” (I Peter 4:12-19)
The requisites or necessary requirements for Christian suffering are: obey the Gospel, commit the keeping of your soul to God in well doing, don’t suffer as an evildoer, and let the spirit of glory and of god rest upon you. Let us look at these individually:
1. Obey The Gospel:
Confirm that you are a child of God. Not everyone that calls himself a Christian is really saved (Matthew 7:21-23, 13:37-43; II Corinthians 11:13-15). What is the Gospel? It is the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:1-4). How do we obey the gospel? By “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin. It is turning from our sins to Christ for the free gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; Romans 6:23, 10:9-10; John 3:16).
There must be a point in time in one’s life when he received God’s free gift of salvation, and was “born again” into the Family of God (John 3:5-7; Titus 3:5; II Corinthians 5:17; James 1:17-18; I Peter 1:3, 23; II Peter 1:4; I John 5:1-5; cf. John 16:33; Romans 8:35-39). You may have been saved as a child, and do not remember it. If so fine. However, if you don’t remember when you received Christ as your Lord and Saviour, then you ought to make sure.
How does one make sure of his salvation? We must realize these simple spiritual facts:
* The just wages for our sins before Holy God is death. One may receive these wages himself by spend eternity in the Lake of Fire separated from God (Revelation 20:14, 21:8), or one may surrender to God by receiving Christ Jesus.
"... God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
Jesus said, "... I lay down my life for the sheep. ... No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. ..." (John 10:15, 18)
* Prior to receiving Christ all were God’s enemies because of our sin. This is true of everyone (Romans 3:10, 12, 23) untill they make peace with God through the bloody death of his Son, Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:4-6). Furthermore, Christ rose from the dead for our eternal justification (Hebrews 7:25).
"... [B]elieve on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. ... For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." (Romans 4:24-25, 5:1, 10).
* One must know the he cannot save himself, neither is there any other god able to save. One is saved when he realizes that only Jesus Christ can save him, Jesus is the only way of salvation.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ...And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. ... And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." (John 1:1, 14; I John 5:6-7)
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Timothy 2:5-6)
"I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. ... there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me." (Isaiah 43:11, 45:21)
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
"Jesus saith ..., I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)
* One is saved when he realizes that there is only one condition to salvation which is a gift receive by repentance and faith.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the Word of Truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
... Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls." (James 1:17-18, 21)
"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." (Romans 10:17)
"... [T]hey received not the love of the Truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the Truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12)
"But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13)
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:5-7)
There is absolutely nothing in life more important than making sure that we are saved. Jesus suffered and died to save you personally (Hebrews 2:9; I Timothy 2:3-6; I John 2:2; II Peter 3:9; John 3:16)! One's suffering will never end, but will increase unimaginably unless he obeys the Gospel.
"He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." (I John 5:10-12)
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36)
"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." (I John 5:13)
2. Commit The Keeping Of Your Soul To God In Well Doing:
* Renounce and resist all the works of Satan (I Peter 5:8-9; II Corinthians 11:14). Admit that you have been deceived by Satan, and by your own self. Commit yourself to Truth at any cost (John 8:31-32, 14:6, 17:17)
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7; cf. I Peter 5:6-7)
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds) Casting down the imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:3-5; cf. Ephesians 6:10-18).
* Affirm your position in Christ: Say, “I can do all tings through Christ which strength me.” (Philippians 4:13; cf. John 15:5)
* Abide in Christ and his Word. Read and study the Bible to know God's will and them let God's will be your will.
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy path.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Jesus said: “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15:7; cf. I John 2:27-29).
"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." (1 Peter 4:19)
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10)
3. Don’t Suffer As An Evildoer:
"Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. ... Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? ... I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. " (Romans 6:13, 16, 12:1-2)
Renounce the "iniquities" of your forefathers (Nehemiah 9:2). We are sinners by inherited nature that goes all the way back to Adam and Eve. We may or may not be guilty of the same "iniquities" of our near forefathers, but we certainly are affected by them (Exodus 20:5-6; I Peter 1:18; Romans 5:12, 19; Job 14:1-4). The word “iniquity” means “self will” or “lawlessness” and it can be specific inherited sins (Exodus 20:5). God will forgive the “iniquities” of His children who repent and and fully trust in Him (Exodus 34:7; Numbers 14:18; Psalm 78:8-9; Isaiah 53:5-6; Ezekiel 18:19-20; I Peter 1:18-19). Consider the following points:
* Examine and judge yourself (I Corinthians 11:28, 32): Recognize and remove all unforgiveness, bitterness, and anger (James 3:13-15). These all grieve God (Ephesians 4:30-32; Matthew 6:14-15). Unforgiveness brings torment making the Christian’s suffering even worse (Matthew 18:32-35).
* Repent of specific sins and seek forgiveness of those you have wronged (I John 1:9; James 5:16): If you have wronged anyone, go to them and confess your fault to them, and try to make things right (Matthew 5:23-24). Confess all sins to God and forsake them (Proverbs 28:13).
* Yield yourself to God and ask Him to fill you with His Spirit: It is useless to attempt this unless the first steps have gone before. Self examination and repentance are essential for the restoration of the Child of God. Once this is accomplished then you may "... yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." (Romans 6:13). Finally, ask the Lord to fill you with His Spirit so that you can win souls and serve Him as he commands (Ephesians 5:18; Luke 11:13)
4. Let The Spirit Of Glory And Of God Rest Upon You:
If a saved person will 1) resist Satan (I Peter 5:9-9; James 4:7), 2) confess and forsake his sins (I John 1:9; Proverbs 28:13), and 3) submit to God (James 4:6-8; Romans 6:13, 12:1-2), then he is a proper vessel to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). If we will seek and ask God’s help in overcoming Satan and our own sinfulness He will open the way to victory for us (Luke 11:2-4, 9-10). Every believer who will follow the three steps may ask the Father for His strength, and He will “give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him (Luke 11:13). With the Holy Spirit of God filling and strengthening us we can joyously bear up under suffering and persecution (James 1:2; I Peter 1:6-7, 4:13-14; Matthew 5:10-12; Acts 5:40-41).
RESULTS OF SUFFERING
“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.” (I Peter 5:10)
Through suffering, God perfects, establishes, strengthens, and settles Believers:
1. Suffering Perfects Us:
The definition of the Greek word translated “perfect” here in I Peter 5:10 is: “To complete thoroughly” (Strong); “To render fit, complete” (Vine); “To put a thing in its appropriate condition” (Zodhiates). Elsewhere in the New Testament it is translated “mending” (Matthew 4:21; Mark 1:19), “perfectly joined together” (I Corinthians 1:10), “restore” (Galatians 6:1), and “prepared” (Hebrews 10:5).
* Suffering makes us like Jesus: The Lord said: “The disciple is not above his Master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his Master.” (Luke 6:40)
* Suffering restores us: The purpose of church discipline is twofold: 1) to restore a believer to fellowship, or 2) to purge out unrepentant sinners (Matthew 18:15-18; Galatians 6:1; I Corinthians 5; II Corinthians 2:6-7). Church discipline is painful, but if the erring member will repent he can be restored, rendered fit again, or perfected. A church should “be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement” (I Corinthians 1:10); perfectly joined together like a well cared for fishing net. The purpose of a church is fishing for men (Matthew 4:19), but if the church is not “perfectly joined together” fish will slip through the net. Therefore sometimes net “mending” becomes necessary. (mark 1:19; Matthew 4:18-22). Suffering perfects both individual Christians and local churches for their job of soul wining.
2. Suffering Establishes Us:
The definition of the Greek word translated “stablish” in I Peter 5:10 is: “To firmly fix” (Zodhiates); “To turn resolutely in a certain direction” (Strong); “To render constant, confirm, one’s mind” (Thayer). It is elsewhere translated “strengthen” (Revelation 3:2), “steadfastly set” (Luke 9:51), and “fixed” (Luke 16:26).
- Suffering establishes us in truth (II Peter 1:12).
- Suffering establishes us in our faith (Thessalonians 3:2-6).
- Suffering establishes our hearts in good words (II Thessalonians (2:16-17).
- Suffering establishes our hearts unblamable in holiness (I Thessalonians 3:13).
- Suffering establishes our hearts in patient waiting for the return Christ (I Thessalonians 3:13; James 5:7-11).
God uses suffering to establish, resolutely turn, steadfastly set, and fix the Believer’s heart on Him and Heaven!
3. Suffering Strengthens Us:
The Greek word “sthenoo” which is translated “strengthen” here in I Peter 5:10 is found only here in the Word of God. More common is its antonym, “asthenes,” which is translated “sick” (Luke 10:9), “impotent” (Acts 4:9), and “weak” (I Corinthians 11:30). The Lord uses illness, impotency, and weakness to chasten Believers with a view toward strengthening them:
“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” (I Corinthians 11:28-32)
One of the purposes of the Lord’s Supper is to remind us to examine ourselves for unrepented of sin. If we would judge our own sins, confess, and forsake them, then we would not be chastened by God with weakness, illness, and even death. If one is suffering chastisement from God, and will repent it will strengthen him. The Word of God says:
“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to joyous, but grievous: Nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.” (Hebrews 12:11-13; cf. James 5:14-16, 19, 20; Galatians 6:1; I John 5:16-17).
4. Suffering Settles Us:
The definition of the Greek word translated “settle” in I Peter 5:10 is: “To lay a basis for” (Strong); “To found, to lay the foundation for anything” (Zodhiates); “To make stable, establish” (Thayer). Elsewhere in the Word of God it is translated “founded” (Matthew 7:25; Luke 6:78), and “grounded” (Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 1:23). The Lord Jesus Christ is the Foundation Rock upon which we are saved (I Corinthian 3:11; 10:4; Matthew 7:24-27; 16:13-18).
Suffering settles us both in love: in the faith:
* Suffering settles us in love: Paul prayed for Believers “that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend ... what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge” (Ephesians 3:17-19). “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.” (Hebrews 12:6) Jesusu said: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent.” (Revelation 3:19) Suffering lets us know that God loves us: “He that spareth his rod hateth his his son: but He that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” (Proverbs 13:24, cf. 3:11-12). God will not allow His children to continue in what is not good for them. Children need and want loving leadership, not to be left alone to their own devices.
* Suffering settles us in the Faith: “And, having made peace through the blood of His cross ... you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight: if ye continue in the Faith grounded and settled” (Colossians 1:20-23). The Lord Jesus Christ said: “Whosoever cometh to Me [salvation], and heareth My sayings, and doeth them [good works], I will show you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep [in the Word], and laid the foundation on a Rock [Jesus Christ]: and when the flood [of Suffering] arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a Rock [Christ]. But he that heareth [who may or may not be saved], and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation [Christ] built an house upon the earth; against which the stream [of problems, suffering and persecution] did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:47-49; cf. Hebrews 10:26-36) All that have been “born again” have “made peace through the blood of [Christ’s] cross,” and has laid his “foundation on a Rock” (Colossians 1:20; Luke 6:48). “For other foundation can no man lay no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 3:11) If we are on the Foundation we are saved!!! All true Believers are reconciled, but not all “dig deep [into the Word of God]” to make sure they are “holy and unblameable and unreproveable in [God’s] sight” (Luke 6:48; Colossians 1:22-23). Suffering tends to help us 1) get saved, 2) “continue in the Faith grounded and settled” (Colossians 1:23). To be grounded in the Faith is to 1) hear, 2) believe, 3) do, and 4) continue in Christ’s Word (Luke 6:47; John 8:31). To be settled in the Faith is not be “tossed to and fro, and carried about wit every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” (Ephesians 4:14; cf. Hebrews 13:9; I Timothy 4:1; Colossians 2:8, 18, 20-23; Mark 7:7-8; II Timothy 4:3). “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (II Timothy 3:12) This being true, it behooves us to make sure our doctrine is God’s Truth. Suffering helps us “dig deep” into the Word to make sure we are settled in the Faith (Luke 6:48). The Faith is “All Scripture,” the Word of God, the Bible (II Timothy 3:16; Jude 3).
RELIEF FROM SUFFERING
“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 we know that the whole Creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until ;now. And not only they, but ourselves also which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan withing ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doeth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then we with patients wait for it.” (Romans 8:18, 22-25)
1. Suffering Is Only For A Short While:
“Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness. For His anger endureth but a moment; in His favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:4-5)
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at things which are seen, but at things which are not seen: for things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (II Corinthains 4:17-18; cf. Romans 8:18, I Peter 1:6, 5:10; Colossians 3:1-4)
Compared to eternity our sufferings are nothing.
2. Suffering Can Not Be Compared With Our Future Glory:
* We will receive a new glorified body: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when [the Lord Jesus Christ] shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is, and every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” (J John 3:2-3; cf. Romans 8:29; Philippians 3:20-21; I Corinthians 15:47-54)
* We will have a wonderful new home in Heaven: The Lord Jesus said: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto My self; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3)
* There will be unimaginable things that God has prepared for us: “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit ...” (I Corinthians 2:9-10):
* There will be “... new heavens and a new Earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (II Peter 3:13; cf. Revelation 21:1-3).
* “There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, shallth ere be any more pain.” (Revelation 21:4)
* “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.” (Revelation 21:7; Note: Victory is a gift and overcoming comes by faith in Christ. cf. Revelation 12:11; I John 5:4-5; I Corinthians 15:57)
* “And there shall be no more curse ...” (Revelation 22:3, cf. 21:5)
* There will be special rewards for service to God while on this Earth: “Every man’s work shall be manifested: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide ... he shall receive reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (I Corinthians 3:13-15; cf. Matthew 3:11) “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may receive the thing done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (II Corinthians 5:10; cf. Romans 14:10-12) The Believer’s judgement for his sins was placed on the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross (Isaiah 53:5-6; Colossians 1:20-21, 2:14; Galatians 3:13; I Peter 2:24-25). The judgement seat of Christ is a judgement of the works that Believers did after they were saved. It is not a judgement of his sin. Nonetheless, it will be a fearful judgement for many saved people, because most do not live for and serve God. They will be very mush ashamed at the judgement seat of Christ because 1) they did not study God’s Word to see what He required of them (II Timothy 2:15), and 2) they did not abide in Christ and do what they knew to be right (I John 2:28-29; John 8:30-32, 17:5-9). There will be no suffering in Heaven, but there will be shame and sorrow, at least until “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more ... sorrow, nor crying” (Revelation 21:4). Every child of God who Jesus redeemed from Hell will be crowned with "lovingkindness and tender mercies" (Psalm 103:4), but there are other special rewards for living right and serving God. The ones listed in the Bible are:
- A "crown of glory” for faithful pastors (I Peter 5:4).
- An "incorruptible” crown for holiness an self control (I Corinthians 9:24-27).
- A "crown of righteousness” for "all them also that love his appearing." (II Timothy 4:8).
- A "crown of life” for those that endure temptation and persecution even unto the death (Revelation 2:10; James 1:12).
- A “crown of rejoicing” for soul winners (I Thessalonians 2:19; cf. Philippians 2:16; Proverbs 11:30; II Corinthians 5:11, 18-20).
Good works have absolutely nothing to do with our salvation, but they are required in order to maintain rewards.
"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise." (Hebrews 10:35-36).
"Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward" (2 John 8).
The Lord commended those of the Church in Philadelphia saying, “... thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My Word, and hast not denied My name ... hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Revelation 3:8, 11). O God help us to keep Your Word, and not deny Your holy and mighty name, even in the face of suffering!!!
So we have seen from personal experience and from the Bible that suffering is real and universal.
We have also seen from the Word of God that God’s purpose for us in suffering is to help us. The Lord has our interests at heart, and wants the best for us. He is in control, He understands, and He is with us in our suffering.
We have found some of the reasons why Christians suffer. There are two main reasons: suffering for wrong doing (Proverbs 3:12-13, 13:24; I Corinthians 11:28-32; Hebrews 12:4-13; Revelation 3:19), and suffering wrongfully as a Christian (I Peter 2:19-21, 4:13-16). We suffer wrongfully when Satan and unbelievers persecute us, and we suffer chastisement when we do wrong. When we suffer wrongfully, God always turns our suffering to our benefit, and when we do wrong and suffer that also is for our own good.
We learn through suffering we are purified, strengthened, and made to produce fruit. We were driven to the Saviour through suffering. Suffering reassures us of our salvation. We understand that our suffering will pass and that it is for our own good.
Our reaction to suffering is often negative, doubting and blaming God, when we should be searching our hearts for the reason for our suffering. We often become depressed, bitter, and excessively sorrowful in our suffering. Worry and sorrow are normal, but taken to extremes they only add to suffering. Some stress and testing is good for us, but if we handle it by blaming and doubting God it is sin. Repent of it!!!
The requisites for suffering are 1) make sure you are saved, 2) commit the keeping of your soul to God, 3) do right, 4) be filled with the Holy Spirit.
As the result of suffering in our lives we are perfected and made more like the Lord Jesus. We are established in Truth, in our faith, in holiness, in good words, and in patient waiting for Christ by our suffering. In addition to being perfected and established by God in our suffering, we are also strengthened and settled in love, faith and Truth through our sufferings.
And finally we are assured that compared to eternity our suffering is but for a short while, and that it is not at all comparable with the glory which will be revealed in us when our Lord Jesus Christ come for us. He is preparing a mansion for you and I, and will one day soon come for us. He will lift the curse from all Creation and make all things new including our physical bodies. We will be like Jesus!!! There will be no suffering in eternity. Let us trust, and serve God now, in spite of our problems, trials, tribulations, heart ache, and suffering, so we will not be ashamed at His coming! Our suffering will pass, and eternal glory will follow!!! Everything will be fine.
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