WHY DOES THE CHRISTIAN SUFFER?
Anita Clark – Pastor, Carbondale, Kansas
“The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our spirit , that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” Romans 8:16-19
Trials are necessary for our growth, and to change us into what God wants us to be. They are God’s tools to shape us and mold us. Trials are like pruning the tree so it will bear more fruit. Our Heavenly Father is in control of all of this. Ephesians 1:11 says God “...works everything after the counsel of His own will.”
I. Spiritual Growth - Ephesians 4:15 says, “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” The words “grow up” means in the Greek, “give increase, or enlarge.” Growth comes through tests and trials the Lord allows in our lives. I Peter 2:2 speaks Of “...new born babes desiring the sincere milk of the Word that they may grow thereby.” Peter in II Peter 3:18, says, “But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Paul says in Romans 16:25, “Now to Him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel.” Spiritual growth in Christ comes through suffering and laying hold of God’s Word for victory over whatever circumstance comes our way.
2. Change - This is very important in the life of a believer. Romans 12:2, states, “And be not conformed to this world, but be ye Philippines by the renewing of your mind...”. “Conform” means in the Gk. “to fashion like” We all were at one time conformed to the world, but Christ “transformed” us, which is the Greek word “metamorphose.” Praise God He is changing us. That work is going on right now. Changed from being a spiritual infant to maturity. The word “change” in the Greek means “transform, refashion, transfigure.” Philippians 3:21 speaking of Christ says, “Who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself.” We are waiting for this final change, when we go to be with Christ.
3. Our Trials Cause Us to Look at our life With a Different Perspective - Sometimes we may say or think, “Is this all there is?” But we learn as we walk with God that Life is just a preparation for the coming time with the Lord. As a poet named C.T. Studd said, “Only one life, it will soon be passed, only what’s done for Christ will last.” Suffering makes us understand that this life is just temporary. As we turn things over to the Lord in submission to His will, we learn to yield our whole life to Him, and His plan for our life.
4. Trials Teach Us so Many Things-One big and important thing is “Patience” - to not trust our flesh or the flesh of others. He teaches us to wait on His will. We learn to rely on God alone for our needs, and that is exactly what He wants. II Cor. 4:17 says, “For this light afflictions which is but for a moment worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
5. One of the Big Things We Learn When Going Through Trials is Dependence Upon God. Jesus Christ was dependent upon His Father God. In John 5:30, He says, “I can of my own self do nothing.” In His natural life He was totally dependent on His Father. John 15:5, as He was speaking to His disciples, He said, “I am the vine, Ye are the branches; He that abideth in me, and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without Me ye can do nothing.” Trials work this important thing in our lives. We come to the end of ourselves and finally turn it all over to the Lord, and learn to wait for Him and His timing.
6. Trials Give Us Things to Overcome - Much is said in the Word of God about being an “overcomer.” There is great blessing for the overcomers. All God’s work in our lives is to perfect us and cause us to be an overcomer through His strength. The word “overcomer” found in Scripture text, Means in the Greek, “To subdue, conquer, prevail and get the victory.’ In I Corinthians 9:24-27 Apostle Paul uses the race, no doubt because he was very aware of the Olympic races of the Greeks in his day. Racers run to win, regardless of how much their bodies may be fatigue or hurting from all the effort and pain. This is a picture of triumphing in spite of trials and tests. The Spiritual Race we are running is not a sprint, but a long distance one. It will go on and on all our lives here in this world.
We look for Christ to come at any time. That is our hope, but we may have great tests yet to endure, much pain to suffer, or great losses in the natural. How can we be an overcomer, if we don’t have anything to overcome? If everything’s just wonderful? If we’ve asked God to have His way in our lives, then, we must submit to Him in all things. II Timothy 2:12 says, “If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him.” The victory over the trials of life will ultimately cause you and me to win the prize of the high calling as we overcome and go on in victory. Phillipians 3:14, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”