Understanding Why Christians Suffer

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 2 Timothy 1:8

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. 2 Timothy 1:12

 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12

For many of us, we fail to understand why we must suffer. Essentially, we are asking, “Couldn’t God have chosen another plan?” After all, if there had been no evil one or evil, none of us would have had to suffer and our entire existence would have been utopian!

Let me simplify the answer – – nobody knows or understands why God “chose” this plan! The best answer one can come up with is passages such as:

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. Deuteronomy 29:29

You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Job 42:3

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! Romans 11:33

Let’s look at a couple of thoughts regarding our suffering as believers in light of the fact that NOBODY LIKES TO SUFFER!!

I. The 1st thought has to do with our UNDERSTANDING SUFFERING

A. Someone has once defined “suffering” as “having what we don’t want, and not having what we do want!”

B. Suffering comes in a variety of forms or colors. 

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, James 1:2 the word “various” [Greek, ποικίλος (poikilois)]  (trials). This word can be translated as variegated or multi-colored (trials). In other words, they come in a number of colors (BLACK=death; BLUE= depression; GREEN = dollars; RED = disaster; YELLOW = disease).

C. God has appointed for believers to suffer for His sake:

For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, Philippians 1:29

D. It is at this point that we need to explain biblically why we suffer:

II. The 2nd though has to do with our UNDERGOING SUFFERING

A. Because God wants to test the genuineness of our faith:

And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD. Deuteronomy 8:2-3

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, 1 Peter 1:7

B. We undergo suffering because opposition brings opportunities:

Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling.
This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.
 But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, “These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe.” Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.
 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.
Acts 16:16-31

C. Suffering gets us ready for heaven and indicates son-ship:

Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11

D. Suffering serves as a testimony to the unregenerate:

And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?
 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
1 Peter 3:13-17

E. Suffering reminds us to forsake sin:

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,
 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
1 Peter 4:1-2

F. Suffering is a warning to the lost of their greater upcoming sufferings:

For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved,Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
1 Peter 4:17-18

BE ENCOURAGED: 

For 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

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ….!

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