Last week in part 1, we touched upon why the Bible says a loving God allows suffering in our lives. I attempted to paint a picture of a God who weeps at pain, because hardship is not at all the design He had in mind. But since suffering is a fact of life, I would like to break this topic down into two categories.
There are many places in the Bible in which believers are told how they can experience tremendous joy in suffering in general, and then specifically in their suffering for Christ. I don’t think I would be out of line, though, when I say that most people in the west tend to see suffering only as a big bummer. So if these scripture passages seem foreign to your ears, you are not alone.
Romans 8:18 states, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (NIV)
In this passage, Paul is asking us whether we are near- or far-sighted. He is not telling us to ignore present pain or misfortune. Instead, he is challenging us to adopt a wider view of your situation. While this is hard, he is asking all of us to learn that God is much bigger than the problems we face. As the classic hymn says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
Now, please look at James 1:2-4 with me.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (NIV)
Notice here that we are to take positive action when troubles come our way. To me, counting it all joy when I experience difficulties seems synonymous with reminding myself that God is on the throne of my life. If I allow Him to, therefore, He can even use the setbacks which I face to develop character qualities within me.
Like any kind of growth, He is aware that this may be painful, so again let’s look at an old hymn’s chorus. It says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
All of us need to ask ourselves which blessings we are counting, as we depend upon Him to change our thought processes. So when the clouds of life overwhelm you, look at the Son.
Next, we will turn our attention to the suffering we are called upon to endure for Christ. Philippians 1:29 says this: “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him, but also suffer for his sake.” (NIV)
The follower of Christ who is in step with God is often out of step with the world. But many of us don’t have a clue about what suffering for Christ really entails.
Sometimes I’m afraid that we in the west tend to look down on our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in poor villages. But although they don’t enjoy all of our comforts, let alone have the latest tech upgrades, they are ahead of us in many ways. They know what it means to suffer for Christ, and they cheerfully face rejection and death in His name.
Yes, we might suffer some losses because of our faith in Christ, and I don’t mean to minimize those. I am simply saying that in our sophisticated lifestyles, we take a pill for the smallest akes or pains we experience. Therefore, in light of this, I think you’ll agree that the things we go through are relatively painless by comparison.
So whatever we are facing, the apostle Paul wraps it up best when he tells us, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:35-37, NIV)
So whether Christ is asking us to face death to ourselves, or to die a martyr’s death, this verse says two important things to me. First, it tells me there is nothing you or I will face that can separate us from the love of the One who went ahead of us and died in our place.
Secondly, Paul lets us know that because of that great love, you and I are more than conquerors. But for the love which He offers to become real in our lives, we must walk in a different direction, making a conscious decision to put Him at the center of each of our lives.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
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