Suffering as a Christian
For the past few weeks a lot of my friends and family have gone through hardships. There have been job losses, sickness, and even death. I have shed tears for those who are going through so much pain right now. Thankfully, my friends and family who are suffering know the Lord and serve Him. As I have observed them through the past few weeks I haven’t seen their faith waver as it can during an especially rough time. Watching all of this transpire truly reminds me of what it means to be a Christian and how it isn’t some sort of whimsical fairy tale life.
Being a Christian does not equal a perfect, burden-free life. There are all sorts of books, YouTube videos, and more that claim they will help provide you with the necessary steps to have a burden-free life. As long as we live in a fallen world this sort of life doesn’t exist. There will be trouble in this world. John 16:33 says:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
This verse couldn’t be any simpler. We know that as believers we are going to endure hardships and tough times. People are going to die unexpectedly, family members will get sick, people will lose their jobs, and so much more will happen. In this world these things happen, and will continue to happen, until Christ’s return. Though there are many tragedies we will experience, as believers we don’t have to be alarmed. Take another look at the last statement in John 16:33. Jesus says, “I have overcome the world.” I don’t know about you but that gives me a sense of comfort and peace. Our Savior is letting us know that there will be trouble but in the end he overcomes the world. Jesus left us with these words right before his arrest and execution. He knew that his disciples, and followers, were going to be afraid and worried. Yet, as Jesus knew the events that would shortly occur, he left us with one of the most encouraging messages.
The closer you walk with the Lord, and the more mature you become in the Lord, the more you can expect trials to come. In fact, we should welcome the trials that we go through. James 1:2-4 tells us to count it all joy. Trials test and strengthen our faith. Trials help us learn how to sympathize with our brothers and sisters in Christ when they are afflicted. Trials should encourage the Christian to cling to Jesus. Trials humble us and help us with our sanctification. We won’t be more like Jesus until we depend on Him completely. And how will we depend on Him completely if we don’t struggle through trials? As long as we serve the Great Master we can expect hard times.
There are many examples of suffering throughout the Bible. When I think of suffering in the Bible my mind usually goes to Job. The Book of Job is a clear example of God’s sovereignty over our affliction. When we go through our trials we can be tempted to resent God or hide away from Him. We should never think God has abandoned us or that He doesn’t hear us. He knows the outcome of the trials we are going through. He is refining us, and sharpening us, in order that our faith may be found genuine. (1st Peter 1:7)
This world is passing by each day, and each day we get closer to being in the Lord's presence. When we compare our earthly trials to our eternal lives with Him we should feel a peace that surpasses all understanding. When we are weak, He is strong. 2nd Corinthians 12:9-11 states:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Our strength comes from the Lord. We don’t have to walk through the hardships of life alone. We have a mighty Savior who walks beside us. It is encouraging to always keep God’s word close to us so that we can be comforted and reminded that as Christians we will go through trials but the Lord is with us.
Brethren, when the Lord saved us, our lives changed. We have become a part of a completely different family. We have gained eternal life and our views of trials have changed. We can have HOPE. Romans 8:18 “Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”