In some of today’s evangelical Christian circles I am finding the teaching that “suffering for the Christian” is an exception and not normal for believers. This teaching expressly persuades their followers to believe that if a Christian does suffer… it is quite possibly because of sin in his or her life. These Christians are immersed in a culture of prosperity. Contrary to this fluffy, happy, prosperous Gospel teaching about suffering, this is what the Bible teaches regarding suffering and the forgiven follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Suffering in the Christian life is the rule, not the exception. Matthew 6:24 says “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’ “
When Saul of Tarsus was converted on the road to Damascus is wasn’t a pleasant “warm, sunny experience”. The truth of Scripture tells us God blinded him and left him in that condition for days! In Acts 9:12-16 a servant of the Lord named Ananias was told in a vision by the Lord to go to this blind man Saul “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
Paul did suffer much! 2 Corinthians 11: 24-27 “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness–”
And to add insult to injury God refused to answer his prayer for healing from whatever was ailing him—a thorn in his flesh. 2 Corinthians 12:7 “ And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Paul learned to be content with God’s grace in the midst of his sufferings (Philippians 4:7; 1 Timothy 6:8; Hebrews 13:5) Paul’s response to his sufferings?
I will glory in the things which concern my infirmities (2 Cor. 11:30).
I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand …henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto them also who love His appearing (2 Tim. 4:8).
The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen (2 Tim. 4:18).
The Christian life is not an easy path to follow and anyone who preaches to the contrary is false! When the Word speaks of the “abundant life in Christ”… abundance comes not from earthly things (it may, I will not disregard that), but there is a joy in the Lord that fills the soul with endless hope, peace and awe at His amazing grace that runs like a thread through every trial or sorrow. We have a choice when this trials come. We can either go patiently to the Word and pray to our Heavenly Father through our Lord Jesus Christ for comfort, guidance, wisdom and help or be filled with fear and start fist shaking at God because He doesn’t provide or fix something immediately. Rest assured that He has “promised” to care for your every need and He will. Keep your eyes on Him, stay in the Word, pray and seek His will and leading. 1 Peter 1: 6-9 ” In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith–the salvation of your souls.”
Be blessed in the Amazing grace of the Creator God through our Lord Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit. ♥ Streim