Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Should Christians Suffer? Part 3

In the first two parts of this series I sought to demonstrate that suffering is both proper for Christians and good for Christians. But that is not to say that it is fun. In fact I don’t want to suffer and I’m sure you don’t either. But how are we to handle it? We will suffer; it is God’s will for us; so how should we respond when the rough times come?

How are Christians supposed to respond to suffering? Consider the following verses:

Romans 5:3, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces…”

James 1 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces…”

Colossians 1:24, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,”

Acts 8:1-8, “And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. 4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was much joy in that city."

How are we to respond? Respond with joy because you know that God is working something wonderful in our suffering and as it happens preach the Gospel!

You are going to suffer. I don’t know what form it will take but I know that God has good purposes in the suffering of believers.

Many people are familiar with the story of Corrie ten Boom. She and her family hid Jews during the Holocaust. They were eventually discovered and taken to concentration camps. Corrie faced incredible hardships but fought to look to Christ in them. She wrote a poem that paints a beautiful picture of the suffering of God’s children:

My life is but a weaving between my God and me,
I do not choose the colors; He works so steadily.
Oft times He weaves in sorrow, and I in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper, and me the underside.
Not till the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the canvas, and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful in the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.
Will you endure suffering, even finding a joy in it, knowing and showing that Jesus is more valuable than all that life can give and all that death can take?

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose” (Jim Elliott).

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