Suffering in this life as a Christian    

Suffering in this life as a Christian

Luke tells us

Acts 14:22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

What are tribulations which could be translated from Strong’s to mean:  pressure, afflicted, anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation or trouble

Apostle Paul says suffering can be mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 In every way we’re troubled but not crushed, frustrated but not in despair,  (9)  persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.

Apostle Paul says church and members are there to help and encourage each other when needed.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

When we suffer, experience first hand and this equips us for the ministry for Lord Jesus.

2 Corinthians 1:4 who {Jesus} comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

For those of us who call the United States home, we have; for the most part; lived a life of religious freedom. We have not had to fear for our death, health, or our family as we have worshiped Lord Jesus in some safety.

This is not the case in other areas of the world. I read about a pastor in India whose skin is scarred from an acid attack. In Nigeria, Christians are regularly killed for their faith by Muslims. In some parts of the Middle East, you can be murdered by your own family if you profess Christ.

Muslim man in North Texas is in trial for killing his 2 daughters.

Religious freedom, is what makes American great. It covers all people equally; Christians, Jews, Muslims, agnostics, and atheists. Religious freedom preserves America’s diversity, where people of different faiths, worldviews, and beliefs can peacefully live together without fear of punishment from the government.

In some ways, even the freedom of religion in our country feels like it is slipping away slowly, as “cancel culture” seems to take ever-greater precedence over the First Amendment.

It feels like to me we’re entering a new era in the United States, where there will be a cost to following Lord Jesus.

This is nothing new, of course. Approximately 2,000 years ago, shortly after Jesus physically walked the roads of Jerusalem, Christians were already suffering for His name.

In 1 Peter 4:12-19, we are told how we should respond when the world attacks us for our faith.

1 Peter 4:12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal {Persecution} that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

Apparently Peter’s readers were astonished that they had to suffer as Christians, especially to the extent that they were suffering. The Greek word translated fiery trial here was also used to speak of the intense fire that burned away impurities in metals

1 Peter 1:6-7 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  (7)  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith; of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire; may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

2 Corinthians 1:7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

1 Peter 2:19-21 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God.  (20)  But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.  (21)  To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

2 Timothy 3:12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

  • Trials refers to ordeals that we encounter in life rather than those things that would induce us to sin.
  • Note that no one particular problem is in view here, but rather all the testing’s of life; Little things add up, not plan on
  • As Christians, we must expect sufferings (v. 12). Peter advises us to expect and anticipate suffering. It is unavoidable. Wicked people are watching all the time.

We occasionally act like we should get a free pass because we’re Christians; even questioning God’s goodness when bad things happen; but God promised that difficulties would come our way.

Jesus says, 

John 16:33 “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.”  {with the Holy Spirit we have peace}

If God promised us that we’re going to go through hard times, we shouldn’t be surprised when it happens.

1 Peter 4:13-14 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  (14)  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.   {Baal worship-example of the Commonwealth games at Birmingham, England opening ceremony}

We can rejoice when we go through trials. It sounds odd to say we can rejoice during suffering, but there are several reasons why we should:

First, we can rejoice because when we suffer we are identified with Jesus Christ. This is exactly what the disciples did

Acts 5:40-41 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.  (41)  The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.    {what type of flogging}

Second, we can rejoice because we share in God’s glory. Just as we suffer with Him, we will also share in God’s glory when He returns in the near future.

Romans 8:17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs; heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Finally, we can rejoice because when we are reviled, insulted, persecuted or mocked, God’s Spirit will rest on us.


1 Peter 4:14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

1 Peter 4:15-16 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.  (16)  However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

Our suffering will be a result of following Christ. We often want to play the victim, and claim we are being attacked when we’ve actually brought the suffering onto ourselves by our own actions (and it has nothing to do with our faith).

There are consequences for our sin. If you are a thief or a gossip, you brought the punishment upon yourself.

Peter makes it clear that we should not suffer in that way, because; as followers of Christ; we should live a life set apart for Him. Rather, we will suffer the wrath of the world because of our faith.

1 Peter 2:20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

1 Peter 3:17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

1 Peter 4:16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

We should glorify God in our suffering. We are not to be ashamed if we suffer for Christ. Rather, Peter instructs us to glorify God instead.

Why? Because the suffering we endure on this earth in our service to Christ pales in comparison to the hope of eternity that awaits us in World Tomorrow in the future.   

1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

On the other hand, “those who do not obey the gospel of God” must still face judgment.

1 Peter 4:18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

No one deserves to be saved, and no one is able to be saved by his or her good works. Since everyone deserves to die because of their sins, the fact that anyone is saved is solely the result of God’s grace

Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through “faith; and this is not from yourselves, it is the “gift” of God; (9)  not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus {Holy Spirit / spirit in man” to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

These passages is summed up in in vs. 19, which says

1 Peter 4:19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.  {good means well doing, helping}

Christians are to entrust their very lives to God, especially in the midst of suffering, always recognizing that He is the faithful Creator who is in control of all things. God never gives us more than we can handle

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Everything He does always has a good purpose, that God wants done

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

We are not promised an easy and carefree life as followers of Jesus. Rather, we are promised that we will experience a “fiery trial;” maybe several trials.

There is a cost to following Jesus, which Peter knew well.

How will we respond when this happens?

We will face pain in this life, especially as followers of Jesus, but the reward of our change to Spirit Beings far outweighs the sorrows for now.

And finally, let’s end with some positive Scriptures

1 Corinthians 15:51-53 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed (52)  in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  (53)  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.  (14)  For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 

1 Thessalonians 4:15-16 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  (16)  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  (18)  Therefore encourage one another with these words.

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