Rejoicing in the midst of suffering?
Somebody asked me, “I often hear about believers being glad because their suffering. I’m not glad at all. Is that bad?”
Sufferers can be sad or sorrowful and that’s okay. The idea that believers should be joyful in all circumstances is neither biblical nor realistic. Jesus cried when His friend Lazarus died. (John 11:33-35; Romans 12:15), Peter also recognizes that suffering causes sadness (1 Peter 1:6). However, there can be rejoicing too! Rejoicing comes often in the midst of suffering, when realized that it is a privilege to suffer for Christ (1 Peter 3:12-18).
Is suffering punishment for my sin?
Sometimes suffering can indeed be a punishment for sin (Galatians 6:7-8). God may use suffering to draw us back to Him (Hebrews 12:3-12). Also, lawless behavior causes suffering (Romans 13:4). In general, we can even say that suffering didn’t enter the world until the first sin was committed. If there were no sins, there were no wounds. However, sin is not the only explanation for suffering (1 John 3:18-21; 1 Peter 2:19). It is rather in most cases the result of following Jesus in a fallen world. The Bible even calls it a privilege to suffer for Christ’s sake (1 Peter 3:12-18).
Persecution can help you reflect Christ’s image more
There are at least five ways in which God uses problems and persecution to make you reflect Christ’s image even more.
- God uses problems and persecution to DIRECT you. (Proverbs 20:30)
- God uses problems and persecution to INSPECT you. (James 1:2-3)
- God uses problems and persecution to CORRECT you. (Psalm 119:71-72)
- God uses problems and persecution to PROTECT you. (Genesis 50:20)
- God uses problems and persecution to PERFECT you. (Romans 5:3-4)
Read these texts from Scripture and ask the Holy Spirit for His light to see how your suffering can be for His glory and for your own growth in faith.
What is the purpose of my suffering? Can anything good come out of it?
In times of suffering we often fail to understand the purpose, but still we can cling to many Biblical truths about what suffering brings us.
- Suffering proves and purifies our faith (1 Peter 1:6-7; 5:10; Romans 5:3-4; James 1:2-4)
- Suffering burns away pride, as it did in Paul’s life (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
- Suffering makes our lives more holy (Hebrews 12:3-10)
- Suffering contributes to the spiritual strength of others (Philippians 1:14)
- Suffering accomplishes purposes unknown to us now (1 Corinthians 13:12)
- Suffering brings us together in unity (Acts 2:42-47)
- Suffering often brings about a greater harvest of souls (Acts 8:1-4)
- Suffering blesses us (Matthew 5:10-11)
- Suffering causes what we really believe to become evident to others (James 1:2-3)
- Suffering points to the glory of heaven (Romans 8:17-18)
- Suffering causes those who suffer to share in the suffering of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21-25; 4:13; Romans 8:17; Philippians 3:10)
- Suffering can bring victory. By faith, committing to God. (2 Corinthians 4:7-12; Romans 8:37)