Friday, October 29, 2010

Suffer Well

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies." (2 Cor. 4:8-10)

I've been thinking about suffering a lot lately. Now, don't get all worried & run off; this is not going to be a sad post. I promise! So, sit your hiney back down & move your hand away from the mouse. I've been thinking a lot about suffering because we all have those times. Regardless of the bill of goods that the health, wealth, & prosperity teachers like to try to sell us, Scripture says that we will suffer. Some people are caught completely unaware by suffering. They are fair weather "Christians"; when the inevitable storms blow, they crumple. I'm not talking about grieving; this is normal. Even Jesus grieved over Lazarus' death right before He resurrected his lifeless body. But some become angry with God & walk away from Him because they feel that He owes them only pleasant experiences in life. Not to be too blunt, but that's a lie. There is absolutely no biblical basis for these beliefs. They should be discarded & repented of. We see myriad examples of Christians suffering in Scripture. Of course, the first to come to mind is Jesus Christ Himself. Further, not a single apostle escaped suffering. Most of them were martyred. 2 Timothy 1:8 calls us to "share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God". In his epistle, James exhorts us to "count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds". When, not if. To be a Christian is to suffer. To be a Christian who suffers well is to be a Christian who glorifies God & brings honor to His name. It's to show to the world that Christ is worthy of our suffering.

To endure persecutions from unbelievers in the form of imprisonment, torture, & rape & respond by praying for your persecutors' salvation; to face cancer - as Rachel, Matt, & Christian have - & determine that it's worth it to you to suffer & even die if Christ is glorified & people are brought to salvation; to declare, "The Lord gave & the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord", upon finding out that your bride has been killed in a car accident - this makes God look glorious! The world doesn't understand this kind of faith, & they are drawn toward its Founder & Perfecter, Jesus Christ.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith--that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:8-11)