The Lord has been speaking to me lately about a not so very popular subject… suffering. God is preparing His people for the tribulation that is coming into this world – a time that will bring with it much suffering for those who are faithfully following Jesus Christ. Yet Jesus tells us, even in this, we are to take heart for He has overcome the world. (John 16:33)
As a Believer, the Lord wants you to be encouraged. He wants you to remember that even in times of suffering, you have reasons to rejoice for it is written that we should “glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3)
God’s word prepares us for and warns us of what is to come. It clearly informs us that all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Therefore, we should not be surprised when a fiery trial comes to test us. We should not act as if something strange is happening. God’s word further tells us that when we are persecuted on account of Jesus, we are considered blessed for this is evidence that the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon us. This is not the same kind of suffering that befalls us as the result of sin, such as murder or adultery. The suffering we encounter on account of Jesus is not a shameful suffering for it glorifies God. Sinful suffering does not benefit us, it destroys us. Whereas God causes all righteous suffering to work together for the good of those who are called according to His purpose.
We should remember that even though we will be afflicted, we are not destroyed and even though we may not understand everything that is happening to us, we are not to allow it to drive us to a point of despair for we have a hope – that is Jesus Christ – within us that sustains us until the Lord delivers us from it all. “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10
Child of God, you have been given the privilege to fellowship with God which is what you do when you engage in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. It is an honor to suffer and be tested for His sake. In and of itself, that privilege alone would be enough but furthermore, God has blessed you to receive benefits on account of your righteous suffering and if your faith is genuine, you will come through it all complete and lacking nothing. “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4
Be encouraged my brothers and sisters. Though suffering must come, God will not allow you to be tempted beyond your ability. He will always provide a way out so that you will be able to endure it. Look for it. On the other hand, if you are not willing to carry the cross that has been handed to you, know that you will be rejected and considered not worthy of Him. Although suffering will bring pain, it will yield a peaceful fruit. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:10-12
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
You, my friend, are not alone and we are not to walk this journey alone. It is our charge as Believers to bear one another’s burdens. In this, we are fulfilling the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2) In the natural, suffering is not pleasant. However, in the spirit, it is good for us and the benefits are many. Granted, this is all a mystery. You will be tempted however, do not turn from it and do not despise it. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Romans 8:35
Though we (Believers) are being killed all the day long and are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered, we shall resolve to continue on for His sake. Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)
When you are temped to turn away from the cup of suffering that is handed to you, remember that God’s grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in your weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Those who suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. To this, you have been called because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example so that you might follow in His steps, and those who endure it to the end will be saved.