"So this week I’ve been thinking a lot about suffering, what it means to suffer, and my response to it. Of course, I’ve thought about suffering a great deal in the last 3+ years, but most of that thinking has been in avoidance of suffering, whenever possible.
In BSF we are studying Acts. This week one passage struck me particularly: Acts 5:40-41 (NIV): “They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.”
This struck me intently, because I suffer a great deal every day, not for the name of Christ, mind you, but it could be. I COULD suffer for His name, if I chose to rejoice in my suffering as Peter did, being thankful that God called me to this ordeal in my life. But I don’t do that. I don’t blame God for my pain, but neither do I thank Him for it.
So this verse in particular does not apply to my situation, because I never really suffer, not here in America, as far as being dishonored or shamed for the name of Christ. Sure, we’re mocked and held up as lunatics, but suffering? No. No one’s losing their life for Christ here in America.
That sent me on a search for suffering in the scriptures, as it more aptly applies to me. Here is what I found, regarding one’s response to suffering, using the HCSB translation:
Romans 8:18-25: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. ... we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits —we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.”
II Corinthians 1:4-6: “He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so our comfort overflows through Christ. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is experienced in the endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer.”
RESPONSE: COMFORT OTHERS
James 5:10-11: “Brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord's name as an example of suffering and patience. See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job's endurance and have seen the outcome from the Lord: the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”
RESPONSE: ENDURE AND BE PATIENT
James 5:13: “Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray.”
I Peter 4:12-13: “Dear friends, when the fiery ordeal arises among you to test you, don't be surprised by it, as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah rejoice, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory.”
I Peter 4:19: “So those who suffer according to God's will should, in doing good, entrust themselves to a faithful Creator.”
RESPONSE: DO GOOD AND TRUST GOD
Many of you may say these verses are referring to persecution. True that in their contexts many of them refer to persecution, as in the persecution of Christ and the early Church. But did not Christ also physically suffer? Didn’t Paul? It is on those bases that I use these in my current circumstance.
Boy, now that I see light at the end of the tunnel, albeit 2-3 years away, and I am determined in my recovery, NOW it is easier to have a spiritual response. Even then, learning what I should do and actually doing it are two different things. A Job I am not.
Thank the Lord for grace."
- Liz Smith Evan