Embracing Suffering: A Christian's Perspective
Suffering is an inevitable part of life. In a fallen world, marred by sin and plagued by evil, everyone experiences pain and hardship. But as Christians, we are called to view suffering in a different light. We have the hope of the gospel, which enables us to endure hardships with a purpose and trust that God is working all things together for our good.
The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, commended them for their endurance in the face of suffering. He acknowledged that they were imitators of the churches in Judea who had also endured persecution. Their suffering was evidence of their faith and the authenticity of their relationship with God.
As believers, we should not shy away from suffering or seek to avoid it at all costs. It is part of the Christian journey, just as Jesus Himself taught. In Luke 9:23-24, Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Taking up our cross means embracing suffering and self-denial for the sake of following Christ.
But why is suffering such an integral part of our walk with Christ? It is through suffering that we truly understand the depth of God's grace and the power of His transforming work in our lives. It is in the midst of trials that our faith is refined and strengthened. As the apostle Paul declares in Romans 5:3-5,
"...we also rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
Moreover, suffering is a reminder that we are not of this world. It prompts us to fix our eyes on eternity and to seek heavenly treasures rather than temporal ones. As Paul writes in Philippians 3:20,
"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it, we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."
While the world may view suffering as senseless and without purpose, as Christians, we can rest assured that our suffering is not in vain. God works through our pain to mold us into the image of Christ and to bring glory to His name. Even when we cannot fully comprehend or understand His ways, we can trust His goodness and His sovereign plan for our lives.
So, let us not fear suffering, but rather embrace it as an opportunity for growth and a testament to our faith. Let us remember that our lives are not our own; we have been bought with a price and belong to God. And if He allows us to endure hardships, it is for a greater purpose that we may not fully see in this lifetime.
In conclusion, as we navigate the challenges and difficulties of life, let us hold fast to the hope of the gospel. Let us view suffering through the lens of faith and trust that God is working all things together for our good. Embrace the suffering, endure it, and know that there is a purpose in every season of your life—for your good and ultimately for God's glory.
In this blog post, we have explored the Christian perspective on suffering. We have seen that while suffering is inevitable, as believers, we have the hope of the gospel to sustain us. By embracing suffering, we can grow in our faith and be transformed into the image of Christ. Let us remember that our lives are not our own, and that God works through our pain for a greater purpose. May we find comfort and strength in knowing that our Heavenly Father is always with us, even in the midst of suffering.
Written by Jesse Schreck | founder, director, and missionary with Practical Missions Cohort
To hear more on this topic you can check out ep. 294 of Missions Incorporated