Christian suffering in divine perspective

by Mike Ratliff

6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NASB) 

On Facebook I have dropped out of nearly all of the discussion groups of which I have been a member for last several years. I am still a member of some, but those are tightly controlled by admins who do not tolerate troll behavior. On the other hand, those which I have left are loosely run and certain people have entered in with destructive agendas meant to divide us and cause much angst. I have witnessed outright attacks on people’s character and abandonment of the very purpose of these groups to pursue topics that bear no resemblance at all to why have come together for fellowship and discussion. Things have become so bad in some of these groups that I have obeyed the Spirit that is within me and simply left. To willingly remain in that environment is not spiritually healthy. 

As we have been discussing over last several weeks about Christian suffering, God most certainly uses it for both His glory and our sanctification. In this post we will look at 7 perspectives of Christian suffering that, I believe, most of us overlook and become frustrated and confused.

The first perspective is found in the passage I placed at the top of this post. In v6 the Apostle Peter tells us that we will undergo “various trials.” I don’t want to go through any, but God’s perspective on this is that we should rejoice because these “various trials” are temporary. This world is not our home. We are simply working our way through it on the way to heaven. Rejoice my brethren.

18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 1 Peter 2:18-24 (NASB) 

In this passage we are given the second perspective. We are told that we can experience unjust or “unreasonable” authority over us. This causes sorrows and unjust suffering. What is God’s perspective? We who going through these things are to silence evil men by doing good. In this we follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. When I read this I am humbled by how small my suffering is compared to His.

13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 1 Peter 3:13-16 (NASB) 

In this passage we are given the third perspective. We can suffer for doing what is right.  What is God’s perspective? When that happens we must be ready to give testimony of our faith. There are several examples of this in scripture. I have experienced this innumerable times on this blog and on Facebook. If you stand firm and never waver on God’s Truth this will happen to you. That is when you are given the opportunity to testify of your faith.

1 Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1-2 (NASB) 

In this passage we are given the fourth perspective. We can suffer because of a determination to resist carnal desires. God’s perspective is that we are to no longer live to satisfy the lusts of the flesh, but for the will of God.

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 1 Peter 4:12-14 (NASB) 

In this passage we are given the fifth perspective. Yes, we can suffer religious persecution. God’s perspective is that in this we are being partakers in Christ’s sufferings and should rejoice in this because we are blessed in that the Spirit of glory and of God rests on us.

19 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. 1 Peter 4:19 (NASB) 

In this passage we are given the sixth perspective. Christian suffering is part of God’s refining fire for spiritual growth. God’s perspective of this is that we must commit our lives to Him, He is faithful.

8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11 To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:8-11 (NASB) 

In this passage we have the seventh and final perspective. Christian suffering can come from an attack from Satan. What is God’s perspective? We are to resist Satan, be steadfast in faith knowing that all who are truly in the faith are going through that same thing.

In v10 we are given a promise, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” 

Soli Deo Gloria!

2 thoughts on “Christian suffering in divine perspective

  1. No wonder the discussion groups attack you – you’re not an advocate of “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Instead, your message is “God loves His elect and has a suffering plan for their lives.” But although He fashions our trials to conform us to the image of His Son and to cause us to depend on Him, He then provides the strength we need to endure and persevere through them, for without Christ we can do nothing. The elect accept the suffering, proving their saving faith, for it drives them closer to their Savior. The elect have ears to hear the truth and love the truth, for it reflects the image of Christ. Those who have itching ears are desiring a “wonderful plan” for they are attached to this temporary life and not watching for the return of Jesus.

    Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.

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