CHRISTIAN SUFFERING

Often Christians have severe and fiery trials. Some are affected bodily, others mentally, some

financially and others in direct or indirect attacks of Satan.

Many are calling out to God, "Why?" "Why do I have to suffer like this?" Phil. 1:29, "For

unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for

His sake."

 

This text states a plain fact. You and I have a double opportunity:

1. to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and

2. to suffer for His sake.

 

We surely want to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. We want salvation,

forgiveness, heaven, love, the Lord Jesus.

 

With this comes the privilege to suffer. Phil. 3:10, "That I may know Him and the power of

His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings..."

This was the prayer of the Apostle Paul.

Jesus suffered. In Bethlehem He was misunderstood, cursed, and blasphemed. In Gethsemane

was the bitter trial. He was smitten, lashed, crucified, etc.

 

Our sufferings are very light in comparison. II Cor. 4:17, "For our light affliction, which is

but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding. . ."

 

To some, life is meaningless, for it consists only of turmoil, trouble, pain and tears.

To the true Christian, life has a plan, for God has a purpose for each life.

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are

the called according to HIS purpose." Rom. 8 :28.

 

I. HOW DOES SUFFERING COME?

1. Through our own mistakes and sin.

Gal. 6:7, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." The man who has committed murder can be forgiven by God, but he must still suffer prison for his crime.

The man that ruins his body with liquor must still reap the effects of a body that has been weakened or wrecked by sin.

We accept even these as from Him and search our hearts fully to repent and seek grace not to repeat these terrible things.

 

2. The mistakes and sins of others. "Why did God allow him to say that terrible thing?" No trial or affliction can reach you without His permission.

 

3. Through temptations. 1 Cor. 10:13, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. "

God knows your "load limit"- the amount that you can endure.

 

4. Through God's providential dealings.

These can be most incomprehensible to the troubled soul and in desperation he calls out, "Why, why ?" God does not promise to give us the reason for His actions. He is sovereign.Even in deepest afflictions; rest assured that He is the loving heavenly Father. John the Baptist was mightily used, but was later imprisoned. Jesus was nearby, but no visit or answer to his query. Jesus says, "Trust Me in prison, John."

 

II. WHY DO SUFFERINGS COME?

1. As a result of sin.

a. John 5:14, "Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and saith unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." This would infer that his sickness was the result of sin. He had been sick 38 years.

 

b. Miriam, Num. 12:10. She was white with leprosy for the sin of murmuring against Moses, the servant of the Lord.

 

c. King Asa, II Chr. 16:12. In his youth he trusted God, but in his old age he refused the

leadings of the Lord and was punished with a foot disease.

 

2. That the works of God might be made manifest, John 9:2, 3.

The disciples ask: Who sinned, this man or his parents that he has been born blind?

Jesus gave the startling answer, neither one, for this happened that Jesus could heal him.

When others are ill, do not cruelly judge them and say, "What sin has he committed this time?" The Lord may make him sick to get more fellowship with him.

 

3. For the glory of God. John 11:4, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of

God," and Lazarus was raised from the dead and many believed.

Surely God has derived a great deal of glory from this story all through the years.

Whatever our trial might be, we should take this sweet attitude. If this thing delights the heart

of the Father, then I am happy.

 

4. The work of the enemy-with God's permissive will.

a. This was the experience of Job in the book of Job.

b. The outcast of Gadara was mentally ill because of the indwelling demons. Mark 5:1-5.

c. The woman was bound by Satan for 18 years in Luke 13:16.

d. Acts 10 :38 speaks of those that are oppressed of the devil.

 

5. Chastisement (child training) Heb. 12:5-13.

a. The parent cannot let the child have its own way always. Neither can God with us.

b. The parent gladly yields if the child chooses wisely. God is trying to teach us to make wise and right decisions.

c. The goal of chastisement is a trained child who makes good decisions even when far away from parental authority.

Suffering is often a part of His plan to train us.

 

III. THE PURPOSE OF SUFFERING

1.      To prove our sonship.

Heb. 12:8, "But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons? II Tim 3:12, "Yea, and all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

If I do not suffer, then I am not a true Christian. The parent that really loves a child must punish him. Suffering is a proof of God's special love.

 

2.      To profit us.

Heb. 12:10, "... for our profit...?  Suffering is for our good. Take a bar of steel that is worth ten pesos. If it yields to pounding, it can become much more valuable. Horseshoes, 60 pesos; needles, 700 pesos; knives, 65,000 pesos; watch springs, 500,000 pesos. Why the difference? Beaten, pounded, fire and pain.

 

3.      To produce holiness,

 

Heb. 12:10, "... partakers of HIS holiness? He wants to make us more holy, more godlike, more like Himself. This takes the fire of suffering

 

4.      To test us. Are we genuine Christians?

Can we trust Him in pain and suffering? It takes the fire to take away the dross and leave the pure gold.

 

5.      To produce a harvest.

Heb. 12:11, "... nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit." Will our lives be "nothing but leaves" or will they bear fruit? Gal. 5:22, 23.  Suffering is one of God's choicest fertilizers to increase the harvest.

IV. OUR RESPONSE TO SUFFERING

 

a.       We may despise it, rebelling instead of submitting. This attitude leads to hardness.

b.      We may faint under it. We need not, though, for the Lord says, II Cor 12:9, "My grace is

Sufficient for thee." There is grace to bear the thorn, the trial and the suffering.

c.       We may acquiesce and bear it. This is the lowest form of victory

d.      We may happily yield to the will of God-embrace the will of God and pray for progress in

the Christian life. This is the highest form of victory.

 

CONCLUSION

If I stand in the centre of the circle of the will of God, then all that comes to me, sickness,

suffering, trials, pain, misunderstanding, envy, neglect, loss, darkness, etc., will be from His

dear hand and I will know that it is good for me.

 REVIEW QUESTIONS

1.      What is the double privilege of each person, according to Phil. 1 :29?

2.      List some of the sufferings of Jesus Christ.

3.      How will our earthly sufferings finally be adjudged'? (II Cor. 4:17)

4.      What does Gal. 6:7 teach us about suffering?

5.      List 4 ways in which suffering may come.

6.      Why do sufferings come? (5 things)

7.      Name 3 people who suffered because of sin.

8.      What are the 5 purposes of suffering?

9.      Mention 4 possible responses to suffering.

Where is the safest place to be at all times?

 

Notes taken from "Christ, Indwelling and Enthroned," by O. J. Sanders; "The Discipline of

 

Life," by V. Raymond Edman; "Why do Christians Suffer?" by Rev. T. Epp.