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6. Why do Christians suffer ?

   
     Books have been written on why people suffer. There are many teachings going around in Christian circles concerning why Christians suffer. BUT, LET'S LOOK AT WHAT GOD'S WORD SAYS:

1. First of all, is it God's will for any of His people to suffer? The Greek word commonly used in the New Testament for "suffer" is "pascha", or "to feel", meaning "to feel negative emotion or pain".

       a. Paul says in 1 Thess 3:3&4 that the Apostles were appointed to suffer.

       b. In 1 Pet 2:19-21, we are called to suffer.

       c. 1 Pet 3:14-17 speaks of "our suffering by the will of God".

       d. In James 5:8-11, we are told to follow the prophets example in suffering.

       e. In 1 Pet 4:12-19, Peter says not to be surprised when this fiery trial comes upon you by the will of God .

        f. In Rom 8:17&18, Paul says all Christians suffer, but it's worth it.

       g. In 2 Tim 3:12, Paul says "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

2. I believe that God's Word teaches that ALL suffering in the Christian life is by God's will, purpose and design, and either caused or allowed by Him, for our immediate or ultimate good. (Eph 1:11 & 2:10, Phil 1:29 & Rom 8:28)

     Even the suffering of Job was by the will of God, and for his ultimate good, and all the way through the book of Job, Job received his suffering as from the hand of God, even though Satan himself was the instrument that actually administered the suffering. (Job 1:8-12, 21, & 22, Job 2:3-7 & 10, Job 19:6-13 & 21, and Job 42:11). Job said in Job 2 verse 10, "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil (bad)?"

3. General types of human suffering:

       a. Loss of health.

       b. Loss of social status.

       c. Administration of justice by legal authorities. (Includes discipline under any authorities, from parents to schools to jobs, to military, and police.)

       d. People who aren't nice to you.

       e. Privation, such as hunger and thirst.

       f. Weather, and so called "acts of God".

       g. Mental. (Includes loneliness, boredom, ostracism, etc.)

4. Suffering is a vital and important part of God's plan for His people.

       a. Our suffering is precious to God: 1 Pet 1:7&8.

       b. There is happiness in suffering for Christ's sake: 1 Pet 4:14.

       c. Suffering is sometimes used as discipline for God's people, and as such comes from God's love, and causes us to grow in Christ: Heb 12:5-11.

       d. Fellowship with God is restored, when we confess that sin to God: 1 John 1:7-9. (The wonderful fruit of the Spirit of God is listed in Gal 5:22)

       e. The Psalmist in Psa 119 says that it was GOOD that he was afflicted! Psa 119:71.

5. Biblical reasons for Christian suffering:

       a. To glorify God and further His cause: Phil 1:12-21, John 11:3-15 (Jesus intentionally allowed Lazarus to die, that God would be glorified by his resurrection).

            (1) The suffering of Job is also a good example. Job was "perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil", (Job 1:1).

            (2) We know of no sin or reason for Jobs sufferings, except that they were a demonstration God designed for Satan and the angels, to prove that God could instill in man an unconditional love for God.

            (3) In Job 1:6-12 we find that it happened not only by God's will, but by His suggestion and strictly within the limits God placed upon Satan.

            (4) In Job 13:15, Job says of God "though he slay me, yet will I trust him".

            (5) In the end, Job got "double his stuff back", in Job 42:11&12.

            (6) God is still being glorified when the wonderful book of Job is read or taught.

       b. For divine discipline: Heb 12:6, David is an example in Psa 38.

       c. To illustrate a point, or many principals of God's Word: The book of Hosea. (God's relationship with Israel is illustrated by the prophet Hosea's relationship with his wayward wife, Gomer.)

       d. To learn obedience to God's Word: Heb 5:8 & Phil 2:8. Even Jesus, in His humanity, learned obedience through the things He suffered!

       e. To keep down pride: 2 Cor 12:7-10.

       f. To help us grow in faith: 1 Pet 1:6-8.

       g. To give us opportunities to witness for Christ: 1 Pet 2:12, Phil 1:12-18.

       h. To demonstrate God's power: Compare 2 Cor 11:23-33 with 2 Cor 12:7-10, illustrated in the life of the Apostle Paul.

       i. To manifest the production of the Holy Spirit in our lives: 2 Cor 4:6-18 and 5:1-9.

       j. To enable us to comfort others in their time of suffering: 2 Cor 1:3-7.

       k. We may suffer due to the indirect action of others: 1 Cor 12:12-13&26, & Rom 14:7. (We, as God's people, are one body.)

6. God's grace is demonstrated in Christian suffering. There is no testing or pressure too intense for God's plan for our lives, 1 Cor 10:13:

       a. Our testing is not unique, it's common to all mankind.

       b. God is faithful & will not allow us to be tested beyond our ability to withstand it.

       c. Along with the testing, God will always provide "a way of escape" so we can endure, or hold up under the testing. (God's "way of escape" is ALWAYS according to His Word)

7. God has not promised us that we will not suffer, but, He has promised us comfort and that it is for a divine purpose.

8. When we suffer:

       a. We should first check our self to see if we are being disciplined.

       b. In 1 Cor 11:27-32 Paul describes 3 stages of divine discipline, from light to severe, and tells us to "judge ourselves, that we be not judged".

       c. Then, if we know we are not out of God's will, we can accept the suffering as for a purpose, and from our loving Heavenly Father.

       d. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thess 5:18.

9. Rejoice! The happiest and healthiest a child of God can be is "in fellowship" and centered in God's will. No matter what, our future is bright:

       a. God, who has called us, after we have suffered a while, (according to His will) will in due course of time, make us mature, established, strengthened, and settled, 1 Pet 5:6-11.

        b. There is no suffering for God's people in eternity: Rev 21:4.