Read 1st Peter 3:18-22.
As Christians, we are not immune to suffering. For some, that may be a new revelation. But when we suffer, let us not forget who we are: chosen, destined, sanctified by the Spirit, in obedience and washed by the blood of the Lamb.
Remember, your citizenship is in the kingdom of God – you are foreigners in exile. The world is not your home. Through faith, the power of God protects you.
We will suffer, and we should be prepared for it.
Discovering the stability or instability of our faith isn’t easy. Ready your minds, discipline yourself, have hope in Jesus Christ’s grace, and trust Him. You live the with-God life. Have a tender heart and a humble mind while you walk in God’s will for you. This may require you to suffer.
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats, do not be frightened. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord… For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.1st Peter 3:13-15a & 17-18
Suffering is not desirable. Peter warns us for he had experienced the testing of his faith. At dawn, every day, Peter remembered his cowardly betrayal of Christ. His heart broke at what he had done. There was no way that he could go back and fix it. But Christ forgave him and Peter writes from firsthand experience.
Suffering is a part of life. It causes us to adjust our focus. We face parts of ourselves we would rather ignore. God can and will use suffering to develop us into mature Christians. The Lord Himself suffered, and He prepares us to face every trial, trouble, and sorrow.
Two Kinds of Suffering
We, as Christians, face two kinds of suffering:
- We suffer because we’re human. We experience, just like everyone else, physical pain, death, sorrow, mental stress, and physical weariness.
- We suffer for our faith.
As Americans, we might face rejection, mistreatment or personal loss for doing what is right. Because we are concerned about it, we will deliberately choose a different path than the culture. We will take the harder right choice and not the easier wrong. We live a discipline life with God and accountable to Him for our rights and wrongs.
Suffering as Christians
Every day, somewhere, a follower of Christ will be persecuted, slandered, or marked for death. Governments, such as Communist China, see Christians as a threat. They thrive on power—they see Christ and His teaching radical. Their faith in Christ leads to their mistreatment and violence.
Open Doors USA reported on March 7th, 2022, that some 360 million Christians live in countries where persecution is significant. They also reported 5,600 murdered, 6,000 detained or imprisoned, and 4,000 kidnapped.
We, here in America, may not see this kind of persecution. In a post-Christian nation we might be shunned, insulted or humiliated for our faith. This is mild compared to those who face physical violence, economic harassment, imprisonment, or sexual assault.
The Lord warned that we would suffer, but He also promised us peace.
I know the ones murdered, imprisoned, and kidnapped found solace in the Lord. They gained courage and strength as they trusted the Lord. The enemy may have killed them, but the enemy cannot take away their God, Christ Jesus, or their crown of glory. Our souls belong to the Lord. The Holy Spirit gives strength, courage, and peace to face suffering. They lived the “with-God” life.
Death is not the end of all. Remember, Christ was victorious in death. He has left us an example.
He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces…Isaiah 53:3-4a
Suffering in the World
Everyone suffers. Suffering is part of the human experience. Our world is imperfect. We get sick, hurt and die. God uses this suffering to teach and transform us. Suffering produces endurance, character, and hope in us. Remember, we learned this lesson in Romans:
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.Romans 5:3-5
Suffering causes us to adjust our focus. We face parts of ourselves that we would rather ignore. God uses suffering to develop us into mature Christians. Our faith is tested.
We should as ourselves this question: Are we still going to trust Him when we are in pain, physically and mentally?
I don’t know about you, but I would rather not face the Lord on that great day of judgment without a tested and tried faith. Will I place at his feet a pleasing and acceptable life of faith?
Trusting Him in times of trouble is difficult, but once we exercise our faith, the way becomes smooth. We’re incapable of facing pain, affliction, illness, hunger, poverty, heartbreak, guilt, aging, sickness and even death without the Lord.
The testing of our faith reaps its own reward.
Establish in your heart to trust the Lord. We are not the first, nor will we be the last, to suffer for our faith. Trust the Lord in your tears, your fears, and your sorrow. Trust the Lord physically, spiritually, and mentally. You’ll never regret it.
Be of good cheer, sister-disciples. The Lord, your God, is with you, and He will restore, support, strengthen and establish you in the faith:
1st Peter 5:10
Notice how those who have gone before us see the value of suffering for the Lord:
“Our trusting the Lord does not mean that there are no times of tears. I think it is a mistake as Christians to act as though trusting the Lord and tears are not compatible.”Francis Schaeffer.
“Pain makes man think. Thought makes man wise. Wisdom makes life endurable.”John Patrick
Call to action
Take heart, sister disciples, this Scripture verse. Write it down and memorize it. Your heart will thank you for it.
Isaiah 43:1-2 NLT
Yours in the Lord,