One of the things we know and come to expect as Christians is that we will suffer.
Throughout the New Testament we see teachings about suffering, the need for suffering, how to deal with suffering and not to be surprised at the sufferings and ordeals that come upon us as Christians.
Suffering is an essential part of our walk with Christ. He suffered so that we could have this opportunity to come to God and be saved from this world of sin and evil. And we suffer because we have made a decision to turn away from the ways of this world and to seek a better life.
But there is a deeper purpose to the sufferings that we go though and that purpose is encapsulated in this scripture, which is one of my favourites, so let’s look at it and see what suffering actually does for us.
Why we suffer
In addition to the points indicated above, it stands to reason that we will suffer in this world. We have chosen as Christians to stand opposed to what this world and the demonic spiritual ruler of this world stands for. Thus as we oppose satan by seeking to stand on the side of Christ, satan opposes us tau every turn and seeks our destruction.
That’s just the way it is and as a consequence we will suffer for what is right.
But God in His wisdom allows us to suffer and to go through suffering because it makes us stronger as Christians. He has promised us also that He will not allow anything to befall us that we are not able to handle but will protect us against falling headlong. But having said that, it is for our benefit to suffer because we learn through suffering and suffering promotes growth. This is the thrust of this scripture in Romans 5:3-4.
The education process
Suffering leads to growth. This scripture shows us the process and progressing of the growth that comes through suffering. Look at what it says in these two verses.
3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
The process of our education is that as we go through something it leads to something better. As we learn we grow and our knowledge of what is going on around us improves, our insights sharpen and our faith becomes stronger.
And we see in these verses that suffering leads to endurance which leads to character which leads to hope. This is the progression of growth and learning as a Christian and it all begins with suffering.
Why…you may ask? We suffer because we are coming out of the world. We have lived in the world all our lives subject to sin and driven by the human passions and desires that lead to all kinds of wrongdoing. We lived like the rest of the world with lives out of control because we are driven by the primal passions of the human nature.
But in Christ we are seeking to overcome these same passions and to bring our human natures under control. You may recall one of the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:23 is self-control which comes through growth as we apply the teachings of Christianity and learn how to walk in the spirit. And as we wage war in the spirit against the passions and desires of the flesh, aroused and confronted by the treachery and deceit of the devil, we will suffer.
But through suffering we learn how to endure and endurance is a wonderful thing. It makes us strong and resilient so that in the face of more and greater troubles we do not collapse and fall apart. Instead we are able to stand and fight back and hold fast through the power we receive from Jesus Christ as we grow.
Then this endurance we receive through standing against suffering produces character and character is an admirable thing in any person.
A person of character is stable and trustworthy. They do not get carried away by events going on around them. They do not get fooled by every wind of doctrine but they examine what is being said or what is happening and judge according to the facts of the situation, not the emotions and passions of human nature. A person with good character is a person of worth and people rely on those who have proven themselves to be of good character.
And from character we receive hope. We hope for the return of The Lord and the receiving of all the promises of The Lord because as we go through suffering and we see The Lord saves us we become stronger in our hope of salvation.
Outcomes of suffering
And this is the outcome of the suffering we go through. The hope of salvation. The hope that we will be saved from all of the things that stand against us. The hope that we will grow and become perfected in the way we think, act and behave as we walk in the spirit and are transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.
In the end that is our goal. To live as Christ lived and to stand perfected in Him ready to be received into the presence of God the Father.
We need to keep this in mind as we go through the sufferings we will of necessity have to go through in this time for The Lord is preparing us and remaking us into His image via the process of suffering. We are being moulded and having the rough edges of our nature knocked off us, and sometimes it hurts to suffer. But the outcomes far outweigh the unpleasantness of the suffering.
Suffering is for our good for through it we learn and grow. Remember this next time you are going through a tough time and also remember the lord’s other promises that He will protect, He will save and He will not allow us to to be tempted and tested beyond our strength but will provide the way of escape to be able to endure all temptations and testings when they come upon us.
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