THERE ARE troubles and suffering everywhere. No continent, nation or individual is spared. In fact, life in this fallen world is a life of troubles and suffering.
Job understood this so he wrote: “Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). Moreover, when Jeremiah, the prophet, suffered intense persecution after giving prophecies, he said: “Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame” (Jeremiah 20:18)?
Also, the Lord Jesus makes it clear to all His disciples that they will suffer troubles in this world (John 16:33). If He, the Righteous One, suffered, who are we to be spared. This should remind us to brace ourselves to face troubles that are camouflaged differently. But some Christians think otherwise.
They hold the view that once a person is saved and declared righteous in Christ, he will enjoy a problem-free life in this wicked and sinful world.
Actually, I have heard some pastors give assurances to their church members that they would live a life of happiness and comfort without any form of suffering. This sounds pleasant but it is clearly a false hope. The Bible says a Christian will share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ he might share abundantly in comfort too. Jesus Himself started suffering from the day He was born when King Herod tried to kill Him.
And when He grew, He lived a sinless and righteous life as He walked the earth. In fact, He only went about doing good to humanity. People who personally walked with Him testified that Christ Jesus committed no sin and broke no law deserving punishment (1 Peter 2:22). Pilate, a Roman governor, could not press any incriminating charges against Christ when He was brought to his court.
Yet, our Lord suffered physically, mentally and emotionally through hunger, thirst, betrayal, beatings, rejection, false accusation, humiliation and eventually painful death by crucifixion. This suffering persisted throughout His earthly ministry.
If you look carefully into the Word of God, you will see how all of God's servants and children generally suffered both physical and spiritual attacks. We can talk about Job, a man God Almighty Himself described as “the finest in all the earth, blameless – a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil” (Job 1:8). Despite God's approval of Job as an upright man, he faced serious troubles including suffering terrible sickness, death of his children, loss of wealth and mockery from his wife and friends.
We can also talk about the suffering of righteous people like Zachariah and Elizabeth. These should lead us into seeing that life on this earth is a mystery in which trouble or suffering cannot be avoided. Everyone, whether educated or uneducated, rich or poor, rural or urban dweller is bound to suffer some form of troubles in their lives irrespective of skin colour. Suffering takes different forms. It could be financial challenges, wars, oppressions, marital problems, diseases, beatings, false accusations, insults, hatred, envy, discriminations, oppression, accidents and many more.
A Christian must understand that often times, God allows some troubles in our lives for our good, but He does not use them to punish us. It may be to prepare us or strengthen us emotionally or spiritually. God does not allow suffering to destroy us. No, God does not destroy. He builds, saves, heals, delivers, redeems, restores, comforts and helps His children. The suffering Joseph went through worked together for his good eventually. It prepared him for a prime ministerial position in Egypt (Genesis 41:37-45).
Jesus said plainly that in this world we will have troubles. But we should take heart; because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). Sufferings, afflictions and troubles come the way of servants of God but the Lord delivers them from them all (Psalm 34:19). The apostles of Jesus Christ especially the apostle Paul endured lots of suffering. But praise be to God that any time Satan afflicted, God provided comfort for His people.
Paul knew this so he said: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as WE SHARE ABUNDANTLY IN CHRIST'S SUFFERING, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too,” (2 Cor. 1:3-5).
Do you regard yourself as a Christian? Do you desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus? Then, the Bible says you will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3: 12).
This means we will share in Christ's suffering which is often designed and permitted to humble us and make us obedient to God. The thorn in Paul's flesh, a messenger of Satan, which harassed him, was permitted to humble him (2 Corinthians 12:7).
Also, the Bible teaches that Jesus learnt obedience through what He suffered although He was the Son of God (Hebrews 5:8). The interesting news is that the Bible says in Romans 8:17 that if we suffer with Christ here in this world, we will be glorified with Him in heaven. This should motivate all of us Christians and ministers of the gospel throughout the world to endure suffering.
However, we must not suffer for committing sins or breaking laws. When a Christian commits adultery or steals, and he is arrested and imprisoned, that is not suffering for the sake of Christ. These are sins which God's Word forbids Christians. They are works of the devil which often receive punishment.
“Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should SUFFER FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS' SAKE, you will be blessed… For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:13-14,17). In his letter to the Jewish Christians, who were being persecuted, the apostle Peter encouraged them to rejoice insofar as they shared Christ's suffering, that they might also rejoice and be glad when the glory of Christ Jesus is revealed.
By James Quansah