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Lessons On Christian Suffering

"If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf"

(1 Peter 4:16)

The month of July offers itself as a good time for reflection on life, for it is the start of the second phase of the year. One of the outstanding notes at the current time is that of "suffering". This is due to the notorious sinful contingency in all nucleii of human performance, both individual and collective. The "suffering" ends by annulling the initiatives and the realisations, discouraging the necessary enthusiasm to look for the right aims. This negative situation of life is accentuated more and more.

The Christian should not be disturbed by such a situation. Jesus Christ warned: "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33). Paul exhorted Timothy: "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." (2 Timothy 2:3).

In truth, "suffering" in the experience of the Christian becomes a powerful tool of spiritual strengthening and is a useful subsidy for victory in his good struggle. We count on the faithful sustaining of the Lord in all adverse circumstances, for "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). "we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37).

  • This leads me to consider the precious teaching in 1 Peter 4:12-16, where we find seven lessons on the "suffering" of the Christian:
    1. RESIGNATION IN SUFFERING. We must accept adverse circumstances (v.12) - We mustn't think "the fiery trial which is to try you" strange, for its purpose is to prove us. It is in the storms that God gives us better capacity to carry out His will and to efficiently fulfil His purpose for our lives. In 1 Peter 1:6-7, Peter illustrates this truth very well when he states that we must greatly rejoice, even if we have been grieved by many 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, honour, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ". See 1 Peter 2:20-21.2.
    2. GOODNESS IN SUFFERING. All trial is beneficial (v.12) - We are not to look upon suffering as something strange which is happening to us, but understand that, as a trial permitted by the Lord, it is the way to partake of His blessing. Paul states in Romans 5:3-4: "we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope." This is the way of blessing, through suffering. This conviction positively changes the perspective of Christian life.
    3. JOY IN SUFFERING: To partake in the sufferings of Christ produces joy (v.13) - The text in the LB reads: "be really glad - because these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterwards you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory in that coming day when it will be displayed". Paul describes his ministerial experience like this: "part of my work is to suffer for you; and I am glad, for I am helping to finish up the remainder of Christ's sufferings for his body, the Church" (Colossians 1:24 -LB). In the past Peter had rebelled against the idea that Christ would suffer (Matthew 16:21-23), now he values partaking in the sufferings of Christ, so that we may rejoice with exceeding joy in the revelation of His glory! See James 1:2-4.4.
    4. BLESSING IN SUFFERING. Suffering guarantees blessing (v.14) - To suffer for Christ isn't misfortune, but privilege (Acts 5:41). It results in great blessing! "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life" (James 1:12). The Spirit that rested upon the Beloved Son, will rest upon us. See Matthew 5:11.
    5. SIN AND SUFFERING. It has nothing to do with suffering which is the result of our sinful life (v.15) - Suffering which results from sinful practice runs for the account and risk of the agent, even if he is a Christian. Here is applied what Paul states in Galatians 6:7 "whatever a man sows, that he will also reap".
    6. THE GLORY OF GOD AND SUFFERING. To suffer as a Christian glorifies God (v.15) - The suffering of the Christian always results in the Glory of God! We must not be ashamed for being Christians and to have to suffer because of this. The disdain the world has for the Christian glorifies God. This is what matters! We are agents in the glorifying of the Lord, for the privilege of being suffering Christians!
    7. GODLY LIFE AND SUFFERING. To suffer according to the will of God is exercise of Godly life (v.19) - This aspect stimulates us to a resigned exercise of Godly life and, on the other hand, gives us certainty of the provision of the Lord in any circumstance of the life dedicated to Him. See 1 Peter 5:7 "casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you".

    Based on his own experience, the apostle Paul considered the suffering caused by his precious ministry like this: "I consider 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).