Last week at a Bible study I heard my friend who is married with three children announce that he believes “in pain, but not in suffering.” Sometimes when our hearts are closed to something in the Scriptures, we actually become blind to it. Maybe we’re not ready to see it just yet.
I’ve heard suffering defined as, “having something you don’t want or wanting something you don’t have.” And in regards to marriage, “Engagement ring…wedding ring…suffering.” Obviously, living in a fallen world we have experienced that suffering is a reality. But it is also a reality in following Christ. Have you never experienced suffering? If not, just wait.
I wasn’t thoroughly comfortable talking about suffering until I had passed through a lengthy season of it myself. Suffering is a central theme throughout my testimony in My Journey through the Cross and it opened up a whole new world to me. Yet, before I passed through that deep valley of suffering, I would never have guessed how very much I would have gained by it. But by that very evidence I see God’s undeniable handiwork…through suffering we grow! What a Masterful and Graceful Potter we serve!
According to God’s plan as we swirl deeper in to the darkening spiral of time, the suffering of persecution is something many will face. And glory to God just as people grow through suffering, the same applies to the body. As we face persecution, the Gospel will spread like wildfire as it always does!
We are not to fear suffering but to rejoice in it. There is a hidden glory in suffering. And glory is equated with suffering in the Scriptures. As followers of Christ, we must share in His sufferings if we are to share in His glory (Rom. 8:17).
I casually suggested to my friend that he do a word study on suffering. Maybe when he’s ready to see the theme of suffering in the Scriptures, he will.
What? Shall we accept [only] good at the hand of God and shall we not accept [also] misfortune and what is of a bad nature?
Yet, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our Potter, and we all are the work of Your hand.
And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conforming wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also] is not worthy of Me.
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?—which means, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me [deserting Me and leaving Me helpless and abandoned]?
Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.
[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]
Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.
And if we are [His] children, then we are [His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His inheritance with Him]; only we must share His suffering if we are to share His glory.
[But what of that?] For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us!
2 Timothy 2:3
Take [with me] your share of the hardships and suffering [which you are called to endure] as a good (first-class) soldier of Christ Jesus.
For because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted (tested and tried), He is able [immediately] to run to the cry of (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted and tested and tried [and who therefore are being exposed to suffering].
You must submit to and endure [correction] for discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons. For what son is there whom his father does not [thus] train and correct and discipline?
1 Peter 5:9
Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world.