A Christian Perspective on Suffering
Suffering is a hot topic. Many are suffering from the terrible effects of the coronavirus. The tributaries stretch in a thousand directions.
This virus confronts us with sickness, disease, fear, unemployment, financial ruin, and stress.
All these are in the top ten of the worst things than can happen.
Both Christians and non-Christians are on the radar. The virus is not particular about its victims. It includes all races and religions.
Thousands are suffering from the loss of loved ones. Our relatives are dying alone and slipping into eternity. This is a new level of suffering for Americans.
Suffering is real
God never promised a life without suffering. No one ever promised us a rose garden. Even those close to Jesus experienced severe suffering.
The Apostle, Paul said,
“For this reason I also suffer these things; I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He can keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12 (NKJV)
Paul shared his suffering for the sake of the Gospel. His suffering was a part of the calling that God placed on his life.
Paul was a special vessel. He suffered more than anyone in the scripture.
Paul’s suffering was a sign that he chosen by God.
“But the Lord said to him, ‘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.” (Acts 9:15–16, NKJV)
Paul shared his suffering throughout the scriptures. God chose Paul to show us how to live strong in seasons of spiritual weakness.
Suffering is a teacher
Paul revealed that his suffering led him to understand God on a higher level. It is in the valley that we find the joy of the mountaintop.
This is why Paul took pleasure in suffering.
Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (II Corinthians 12:10, NKJV)
This is difficult to understand. Paul is saying; “I take pleasure in my trouble.“
”Few of us have discovered the value of suffering. Weakness never feels valuable. But spiritual weakness is a strength. Paul realized when his natural man is weak, his spirit was strong.
Paul discovers he cannot count on his human ways to perform God’s work.
Paul sees his physical suffering as spiritual renewal —
”though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16, NKJV)
Paul finds purpose
Paul realized he was to live for Christ and not for himself. This is the call to every believer. We are crucified with Christ.
Paul realized that the outer body dies day by day. He also realized that his spirit man was being renewed every day-through his suffering.
Why is Paul known as the suffering servant? Because he suffered for God’s glory. This means Paul‘s suffering was a part of showing us how to walk in God’s strength.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. (2 Corinthians 4:8–12, NKJV)
Don’t hide your struggle
Paul said; “I am not ashamed.”
Few reveal their struggles. Paul was transparent because his suffering was for God’s glory and not from God’s judgment.
Many of us hide our struggles because we are afraid of man’s judgment.
In his suffering, Paul became convinced of God’s goodness. Paul turned his suffering into understanding.
He was not ashamed to suffer for God.
As believers, we must find God’s outcomes in the center of our struggle.
The coronavirus is a real struggle and thousands are suffering.
Endure the suffering
Through our suffering, we can land in a good place. The place where we understand that God is trustworthy.
Like Paul, we can know that God is faithful.
Paul knew his suffering was for a purpose. He said; “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, NKJV)
When we realize the purpose of our suffering, we can endure the challenge of the moment.
Suffering is here, but glory is coming.
This was first posted at Medium.com