The Biblical Truth about Christian Suffering

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The Biblical Truth about Christian Suffering
THE BIBLICAL TRUTH ABOUT CHRISTIAN SUFFERING
(My Bible Reflection and Exposition-FAZ)

SCRIPTURE REFERENCE: I Peter 4:12–14 (KJV)
“BELOVED, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified”
 
INTRODUCTION:
When I was a new Christian, I thought to myself that since God loved me so much, he would not allow me to experience sickness, pain, loss, sorrow and adversities in life. Because I looked at God like a human parent who does not wish his beloved child to get sick, to undergo pain and sorrow but to be happy, prosperous and successful.

But this is not how God treats and deals with his children. For suffering is the natural accompaniment of a Christlike life. If you are a true believer of Jesus, God will allow you to experience pain, sickness, financial losses and adversities, etc.
 
In the aforesaid passage, St. Peter reveals to us the crucible of Christian suffering. And in this reflection, I will share with you the SUBJECT, the NATURE, the PURPOSE, the PROTECTION and LIMITATION and the JOY of CHRISTIAN SUFFERING. Let me expound the passage, 1 Peter 4:12-14.

One: THE SUBJECT OF SUFFERING.(v. 12)
St. Peter starts with the address, “BELOVED." The word “beloved” is from the Greek word Agape, which speaks of the love of God. It is the same Greek word for “love” which is used in John 3:16; I Corinthians 13; I John 4:8, and Romans 5:5. The Beloved are the saints divinely loved by God. It is you and me who are loved by God with his perfect love. Therefore, if you are beloved by God, you will experience suffering. You are not immune from it as you are the proper subject of it.

S. Peter says, “think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.”

These saints were thinking it strange for Christians to go through trials as if the Christian life procured for them an immunity from suffering. Peter again says, “stop thinking it strange.” The Greek word translated “strange” means more than “unusual.” It means “alien” or “foreign.”

Thus, suffering and fiery trials for Christians are not unusual, alien or foreign. Do not be surprised if you do so. You are not yet home in heaven. On earth, suffering is part and parcel of our Christian journey.
 
Two: THE NATURE OF SUFFERING. (v. 12)
“concerning the FIERY trial which is to try you” (v. 12)
The words “fiery trial” are from a Greek word which literally means “a burning.” The word occurs in Proverbs 27:21 in the phrase, “As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold.” It is the word “furnace.” The word occurs also in Psalm 66:10, “For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.”

So, suffering is a smelting or burning process. Peter says that suffering for righteousness’ sake is a smelting process.

To illustrate this, it is like an ancient goldsmith who refines the crude gold ore in his crucible. The pure metal is mixed with much foreign material from which it must be separated. The only way to bring about this separation is to reduce the ore to liquid form. The impurities rise to the surface and are then skimmed off. But intense heat is needed to liquefy this ore. So the goldsmith puts his crucible in the fire, reduces the ore to a liquid state and skims off the impurities. When he can see the reflection of his face clearly mirrored in the surface of the liquid, he knows that the contents are pure gold. The smelting process has done its work.

Just like a crude gold ore placed on the fire, trials and sufferings are painful to separate impurities in our lives. We will experience afflictions, burden, persecutions, rejection, troubles, and even death. (JOHN 16:33, ,Phil 3:10, Col 1:24)
 
Three: The PURPOSE OF SUFFERING. (1 Peter 1:7)
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7).

Peter speaks of, as “the trial of your faith.” That is, these trials, testings, and solicitations to do evil constituted the trial of their faith. The word “trial” used here in connection with “faith” is from a different word than that translated “temptations.” It means “to test something for the purpose of approving it.” You are tested to approve your faith. You cannot know the genuineness of your faith unless it is tried or put to the test.

I remember, before I purchased a brand new vehicle, whether a Fortuner or Montero, I asked my friends which is better. The common answer: Test drive. You have to test drive it at rough roads and all road conditions to determine its stability. You cannot know which is better unless you test it. So with our faith.

Christian suffering is always used by a God of love to refine our lives. It burns out the dross, makes for humility, purifies and increases our faith, and enriches out lives. And like the goldsmith of old, God keeps us in the smelting furnace until He can see the reflection of the face of the Lord Jesus in our lives.

GOD IS MUCH INTERESTED ON HOW YOU RESEMBLE LIKE HIS SON JESUS THAN HOW MUCH YOU WORK FOR OR SERVE HIM.

God is not so much interested in how much work we do for Him, as He is in how much we resemble His Son. Sometimes we think that if God would remove the present affliction or handicap which to us seems to put a limitation upon our usefulness to Him, we could do far more efficient work for Him. God knows what He is doing, and it is not for us to question His dealings with us.

God is not interested in the quantity of work but in the quality. We may not be able to turn out as much work for the Lord Jesus as some other saint, but if the furnace of affliction has produced in us a more Christlike character, the service we do render, is of far more value than the service rendered by the saint who does not have so much of the Lord Jesus in his life. God is building Christian personality for eternity, which is far more important to Him than the amount of service one might render in this brief life.

Four: THE PROTECTION and LIMITATION IN SUFFERING. (v. 12)
“as though some strange thing HAPPENED unto you” (V. 12)
The word “happened” is literally “happened by chance.” Nothing happens by chance in the Christian life. Nothing is allowed to come to a saint which does not come through the permissive will of God.

God built a fence around Job, and Satan could not touch him until God opened the gate. And then when Satan did come in, he was still acting under the limitations imposed upon him by God.

Therefore Peter says “Divinely loved ones, stop entertaining the thought that the smelting process which is operated among you and which is for the purpose of testing you, is a thing alien to you, as if an alien thing were falling by chance upon you.”

Suffering for God and righteousness is always intended by God because He has a purpose. God sometimes brings us to deep waters not to drown us but to cleanse us.
 
Five: The JOY OF SUFFERING (v. 13)
“But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy”.(v. 13).

Instead of thinking that suffering is a thing alien to them, the saints are exhorted to rejoice that such is their lot. But this rejoicing has its limitations. They are to rejoice in the fact of this suffering only in as far as these sufferings are a natural consequence or a natural accompaniment of a Christlike life.

The word “inasmuch” is from a Greek word which means “in as far.” They are not to rejoice when they suffer for evil doing, but there is good cause for them to rejoice when suffering as a Christian, for then they are co-participants in the sufferings of Christ. He suffered for righteousness’ sake, and the saints experience the same kind of suffering.
Therefore, saints are to rejoice in the fact that they are co-participants in he sufferings of Christ
 
CONCLUSION:
Brethren, Christian suffering, whether it be in the form of persecution by the world, trials and testings in the form of hardships, privation, illness, or any other kind of suffering, is a natural accompaniment of the Christian life. They are potent means in the hands of God of purging the dross out of our lives, of purifying and strengthening our faith, and of conforming us to the image of His dear Son. Christian suffering is the crucible into which God places us, and in which He keeps us until He can see a reflection of the face of Jesus Christ in our lives. It is a mark of God’s special favor towards and confidence in that saint who is exercised thereby.

God bless us all.

 

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