Sunday, June 01st, 2008 | Author:

What if I told you that there’s a Christian path that makes all the following blessings available to Christians? Would you be interested? Here’s the list:

· Wisdom
· Knowledge
· Strength
· Obedience
· Glorification
· Confirmation
· Establishment
· Perfection
· Fellowship with Christ

Anybody interested? Would you like to pray for these blessings? Then pray and ask God to grant you the blessing of suffering. No, I’m not making this up. Listen to Philippians 1:29:

For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.[1]

“Granted” in this verse means “to show favor, to give freely, to bestow.” So God is showing us favor when He allows us to suffer.
Still don’t buy it? Peter tells us suffering is the reason we were called. From 1 Peter 2:20-21:

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. 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[2]

So we’re called to suffer for doing right, and Jesus set us the example. In fact, even Jesus was perfected through His suffering in the flesh. Hebrews 2:10

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.

Want another example? Peter and the apostles rejoiced when they were flogged. Acts 5:40-41

and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them to speak no more in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.[3]

They rejoiced that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.

Now, you might be thinking that we don’t suffer for Christ, we just suffer like everybody else in the world. It’s true that all humans suffer, and the rain falls on the just and the unjust. The difference is that through suffering patiently for doing right, Christians are being transformed through the renewing of their minds.[4] We are following in the footsteps of our Lord, and acquiring knowledge and wisdom, strength and obedience. We are being confirmed and established and perfected and glorified.

Any biblical discussion of suffering patiently for doing right would not be complete without the classic example of Job. Here’s what he lost, all at one time: 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, very many servants, 7 sons, and 3 daughters. So how did Job react? He fell to the ground and worshipped.

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.[5]

Next thing he knows, from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head, he’s covered with deadly boils. His wife was a little impatient by this time. She said to Job:

“Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.[6]

Our flesh usually responds to suffering as this foolish woman did.
It tells us that suffering is not a blessing, but a curse. Satan tells us that God must be mad at us and He’s punishing us. I tell Satan to read Hebrews 12:5-8:

and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.” It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.[7]

Satan also tries to get us to believe that when we suffer, God is punishing us for all the bad things we’ve done in our lives. But Paul says this to Titus in 2:14:

[Christ Jesus] gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession.

Do you know what redeemed means? It means to ransom, to rescue from loss. When I think of redemption, I think of a mangy, dirty flea-covered mutt like me, locked in a cage at the SPCA. But Jesus comes along and says, “I’ll pay for all the damage she caused. I’ll pay for her shots, and I’ll get her cleaned up.” And then He takes me home with Him.

That’s how I see redemption. But did Jesus pay with US currency? No, 1 Peter 1:18-19 tells us this:

you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.[8]

Jesus bled for me and for you. He lived, and He suffered, and He died, so that we would have an example of how we should live and how we should suffer and how we should die.

So as we live and suffer today, let’s keep in our minds what the Bible tells us are the results of our suffering.

Wisdom and Knowledge:
Ecclesiastes 1:18: Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.[9]

Obedience:
Hebrews 5:8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.[10]

Glorification:
Romans 8:16-18 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.[11]

Perfection, Confirmation, Strength, Establishment:
1 Peter 5:8-10 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 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. And 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.[12]

And my personal favorite,

Fellowship with Christ:
Philippians 3:8-12: More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.[13]

[1] Philippians 1:29
[2] 1 Peter 2:20-21
[3] Acts 5:40-41
[4] Romans 12:2
[5] Job 1:21-22
[6] Job 2:9-10
[7] Hebrews 12:5-8
[8] 1 Peter 1:18-19
[9] Ecclesiastes 1:18
[10] Hebrews 5:8
[11] Romans 8:16-18
[12] 1 Peter 5:8-10
[13] Philippians 3:8-12

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