Rejoicing in Christ’s sufferings – Part 1
It might seem surprising that in a passage of the scriptures that deals with trials and suffering, we find the words “joy, gladness, rejoice, glory, exceeding joy, happy, glorify God”. But God’s Word is different from man’s words, just as God’s ways are different from man’s ways. It is not natural to rejoice when there is suffering, especially if we are living righteously. Most people see it as a strange thing for the righteous to suffer. The text begins by instructing us “not to think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try (test) you, as though some strange thing happened unto you” (1 Peter 4:12).
Some people have the erroneous idea that once you become a Christian, that will be the end of all forms of suffering. Some ministers and preachers publicise programmes and seminars aimed at ending all trials, troubles, problems and difficulties. Many sincere people rush to those meetings and are soon disappointed. Suffering is part of life in the present age. True believers cannot avoid persecution and suffering. “Think it not strange”. “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution”. “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God”. “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (2 Timothy 3:12; Acts 14:22; 1 John 3:13).
“Beloved, think it not strange”. Satan often attempts to deceive believers that they are no more beloved of God, if He allows any form of trial or suffering in their lives. Yet, the Beloved Son of God, Jesus Christ, suffered too (1 Peter 1:11; 2:21; 3:18; 4:1; John 15:18). Yet, He remained ever and always the Beloved of the Father. No one, however blessed and privileged in Christ and in ministry should think that persecution, suffering or pain will never come to him.
Why then does God allow trial, persecution and suffering to come to His children? ‘Problems are given to ordinary people to make them extraordinary’. They strengthen our moral character and toughen our spiritual muscles. Suffering can, (1) teach us patience with people and situations (Romans 5:3,4), (2) make us to learn obedience (Hebrews 5:8), (3) keep us from pride (Job 33:16,17,19), (4) restore us from wrong, dangerous paths (Psalm 119:67), (5) prepare us to comfort others who suffer (2 Corinthians 1:3,4), (6) prove the depth of our love for God (Deuteronomy 8:2,3), (7) prepare us for greater, better and higher service and ministry (Genesis 45:5,7,8), (8) make us to be partakers of God’s holiness (Hebrews 12:10,11; 1 Peter 5:10).
It is the cross that leads to the crown and it is the suffering that leads to glory. Therefore, knowing the spiritual value of persecution and suffering, we are to rejoice when we become partakers of those experiences with Christ.
Further Reading (King James Version): 1 Peter 4:12-19; 1 Peter 4:12,13; 1 Thessalonians 3:3,4; 2 Timothy 3:12; 2 Corinthians 4:16,17; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 5:10; Romans 8:17,18; 1 Peter 4:14-16,19; 3:14,16; Luke 6:22,23; 2 Corinthians 12:9,10; Hebrews 12:2,3; 2 Timothy 1:12; Psalm 138:8; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1Peter 4:15,17,18; 2:20; Ezekiel 9:4-6; Matthew 3:9,10;Malachi 3:5; Luke 12:47,48; Hebrews12:25,26,29; Romans 1:18,32; 2 Peter 3:5-7.