It has been granted for you to suffer

I am not sure I have ever heard a sermon on our inheritance as  believers which included suffering as part of our entitlement, yet the more I read the New Testament I see that suffering, trials and difficulties are integrally woven into our life of faith. I noticed  in our first week as we read Acts 9 where the Lord said of Paul “He is a chosen instrument of Mine to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings and sons of Israel for I will show him home much he must suffer for my names sake.”

Unlike me, Paul was not deterred by suffering and his suffering was huge compared to the small trials I have. But I have it all wrong. I visualized life similar to a see-saw that if difficulties were high, comfort and joy were low and if suffering is absent, joy is elevated. But thank God for His Spirit’s correction of my wrong thinking. 2 Corinthians 1:3-12 says the opposite is true. The more we are afflicted, the more Christ comforts us. The more we are burdened the less we depend on our own strength and fully set our hope completely on Jesus.

For the rest of this week’s study, read Philippians 1:18-30. Also read John 16:33, Romans 5:1-5, Romans 8:16-39, 2 Corinthians 4:8-18, Hebrews 12:1-13, James 1:2-12, 1 Peter 1:3-9, 5:6-10

Paul wrote “To live is Christ to die is gain.” How would you paraphrase/explain this to someone who did not understand what he was saying?
What was Paul’s passion in life?
What is the purpose (benefit) of suffering in a believer’s life? How should we respond to suffering?

 

 

7 thoughts on “It has been granted for you to suffer

  1. Paul’s statement “To live is Christ and to die is gain” means that while he is alive on earth, all his motives/purposes/actions are geared toward bringing Christ to the forefront through sharing who He is and becoming more like Him. Unbelievers have only the here and now to look to for purpose and fulfillment, embracing the worldly goals of wealth, success, fame, or power. On the other hand, Paul because of his belief has determined to foster eternal values. Therefore, if he were to die, he considers it a gain because he would be released from worldly concerns, and best of all, be with Jesus.

    Suffering in a believer’s life produces endurance (Rom 5:3) which in turn develops character (v4),and character strenghthens our hope of salvation (v4&5). Surely, almost everyone of us would rather bypass suffering; however, it does in the aftermath make us stronger–having sharpened or matured us to handle like situations in the future, or to come alongside one who is going through a similar trial. And without a doubt, suffering empowers and refines us to step up to a challenge, something that a life of ease probably could not develop as well.

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  2. Lots of referring to scriptures.

    I couldn’t manage the technical stuff as you are finding out. You’re doing great, Lynn

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  3. Before leaving this chapter, I just wanted to share a story which came on my personal email, because it came at the perfect time in our study of struggling. You may have heard it before: “A man walking along spotted a butterfly cocoon about to open. He watched for a while as it tried to force its body through the little hole. It stopped as it could not go any further. That’s when the man decided to help it along, using some scissors to cut open the cocoon. The butterfly emerged but it had a tiny withered body and shriveled wings. The man watched, expecting its wings to open and expand and be able to support the butterfly’s body. Neither happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling with its withered body and shriveled wings, never able to take flight.

    The man didn’t understand that the restrictive cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were nature’s way of forcing strength from the butterfly’s body into its wings, ready for flight once it freed itself from the cocoon.

    Struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. Without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could have been–never able to fly.”

    The email closed with these sayings: I asked for strength, I was given difficulties to make me strong;
    I asked for wisdom, I was given problems to solve; I asked for prosperity, I was given brains and brawn to work; I asked for courage, I was given obstacles to overcome; I asked for love, I was given troubled people to help.

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    • I really appreciate the analogy of the butterfly and I think struggles and suffering have similar effects on our growth or can cause us to harden our hearts. One of the results of suffering in my own life is that I feel more compassionate toward others who struggle. I am slower to jump to conclusions or offer my ideas and desire to hear their hearts and how they are finding God’s grace in the midst. If they feel God is distant, I want to help them find hope in Him again.

      One more thing I discovered is that the word granted in the phrase “granted to suffer” is charizomai which means to give graciously, to do a favor! It is related to the word charis which is often translated grace.

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  4. Thanks for the butterfly story, Adela! I’d forgotten that but it makes for a good illustration. Similarly, I can remember a speaker posing the question, “would you rather go through life with no struggles and never drawing near to God, or experiencing several trials but in the end furthering your relationship with God?” Whether they are biblical struggles or something such as going to bed hungry because you didn’t listen to your mom when she told you to eat dinner twenty times, trials in our lives build character. In addition, it’s easy to praise God when the blessings are rolling in, but being able to point to Christ in the bad times is an excellent witness.

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