For it has been appointed for you not only to believe but also to suffer.
How often do we hear sermons preached or see books written about this aspect Christianity? Until recently the “normal” Christian life was understood to be filled with suffering and even persecution. Now we expect a quick victory, answered prayer and material blessing. We are rarely told that while our inheritance is glorious, our lives will be filled with tribulation and suffering.
In Acts 14:22, Paul preaches “strengthening the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.’” Paul knew this, Jim Elliott who died bringing the gospel to the Auca tribe in Ecuador in 1956 realized this, and John Allen Chau, who was killed in November 2018, attempting to share the good news with an unreached people on an island off the coast of India understood this. They did not eschew suffering but accepted it as part of a life lived for God.
Paul later wrote the Thessalonians “We kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know.”
Even as an earthly parent, I know it is not wise to give my children everything they want or ask for. Indulged children generally do not display strength of character or intrinsic motivation; instead they do what will cause them to look good, feel good or bring tangible reward.
Peter wrote that we should not be surprised when we encounter trials of many kinds because trials test our faith to purify it. There is value to process and time. For example, you have probably heard while a mushroom may spring up overnight, an oak tree takes fifty years to mature. Spiritually speaking – which would you rather be – an oak or a mushroom?
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3
My next blog will be titled, “The Perks of Suffering.”