Suffering As A Christian
No one wants to suffer. But everyone does at times in life. It is not strange or unusual to suffer. Suffering is as much a part of life as accomplishment or joy or blessings.
It’s how we respond to suffering that makes the difference between an authentic follower of Christ and a non-Christian. How we respond to suffering is an integral part of our testimony.
In 1 Peter 4:16 Peter said, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;” In these two verses Peter gives us several ways to endure and prevail when suffering happens.
First Peter teaches us not to be ashamed if we suffer. Many times people feel shame through suffering because they think somehow they’re responsible for it. Instead, Peter teaches us to praise God for it. Non-believers find it hard to believe when they see Christians praise God in the middle of our trials. But we know something they don’t. In all our trials, God is with us. He comforts us, He teaches us. His comfort and the peace available to us when we suffer for Him give us the strength and power to not only endure our suffering, but see God’s hand at work in our lives as well.
Suffering for authentic believers in Christ gives us opportunities to grow spiritually. If we remain in the presence of God as we suffer He will reveal things to us about Him and each of us. God shows us what we’re made of in our trials. An effective prayer for times we’re in the midst of suffering and trials in life is, “God show me what you would have me learn about you and about myself in this time of trial.”
Another thing suffering does for us is give us the chance to experience God’s awesome love for us. At no other time in life can we feel him as close to us as our breath than when we’re going through troublesome times. When we seek to be in His presence we’re able to feel the peace that passes all understanding. Though we suffer, though we feel lousy, though we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, He is with us, loving us, comforting us, helping us to remember who He is and how He loves us.
Our suffering also produces in us the ability to gain a truthful perspective of our lives.When we suffer we instinctively evaluate our lives. Take a personal inventory of ourselves, evaluate how the suffering is impacting our lives. Peter gives us a way to learn His perspective and teach us our true perspective in 1 Peter 1: “…now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:7.
Perspective is our ability to perceive things by way of value as it relates to how we respond to people and circumstances in our lives. Our perspective on life is guided by our personal conviction that God is with us.