Summary: This is the sixth in a series on Revelation dealing with the general teaching of Scripture on suffering.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
“Suffering for Jesus Pt 2”
Several weeks ago we talked about the suffering church of Smyrna. Jesus encouraged them to not to fear the future suffering but to endure and be faithful to the end. Suffering, to one degree or another, has infiltrated the human experience since Adam and Eve rejected God’s authority and decided to seek life on their own terms. Today we suffer the cumulative effect of centuries of willful defiance against the Creator and His ways.
What the Bible Teaches Regarding Suffering
Suffering is a gift.
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have. Phi 1:30
Suffering is not only a gift, it is a calling.
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 1Pe 2:21
It is not suffering for suffering’s sake or without purpose. The suffering is for the sake of Christ.
It demonstrates our desire to be faithful servants in a fractured world.
I. THE SOURCE OF SUFFERING
Yes God is an all loving God! Yes God is an all powerful God! In order for God to straighten out the mess we have made for ourselves by our selfish choices, God would have to eradicate your free will and make people obey His ways. Suffering is the result of man’s own selfishness and rebellion against the ways of God.
II. THE CHARACTER OF SUFFERING
A. Biblical Terms
Misfortune, calamity, affliction, trials, tribulation, Mistreatment, oppression, bear hardship, receive or suffer hard blows from without, Distressed by outward circumstances, distressed by emotional upheaval
B. No respecter of Persons
C. Never arrives announced
III. THE REASONS FOR SUFFERING
Trials only produce positive character when responded to in a positive manner.
A. Trials Produce Purity and Maturity
B. Cultivates Compassion for others
C. Teaches to Trust In God’s power Alone
D. Suffering is the Path to Personal Glory and Blessing
E. Spreads the Word of God
F. Brings glory to God
As we encounter life and all its pain and suffering, our question should not be, "Why Me?" That is the response of a hard (perhaps confused) heart seeking relief from misery without meaning.
First we should realize that we live in a fallen world intended to drive us to God and we will never be comfortable or pain free till Jesus returns.
Next, we should ask, "What can I learn from this trial and how can I bring God honor as His child?"
Paul told young pastor Timothy to suffer hardship.
3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 2 Timothy 2:3-4
If I believe that God is a good and loving God, who is infinitely concerned with my ultimate (important distinction) good, then I will be better equipped to respond in a healthy way to any given circumstance. If on the other hand, I believe that God is obligated to keep me comfortable, I will be disappointed and will become bitter. How we think concerning God and the place of trials and suffering in His master plan will affect my response. I know that God could remove any circumstance if it were in my best good and His greatest glory. Thus, if He doesn’t, there must be a reason.
IV. RESPONSE TO SUFFERING
A. Natural Human Response to Suffering
Like Peter, our focus on the Savior often shifts to the storms and circumstances of life and as fear diminishes our faith, we sink into a sea of despair where our only hope is the hand of grace offered by a loving and merciful God. Fear in turn can trigger two other responses.
Adam’s first response to fear of exposure was to hide and run. We have a natural tendency to RUN from unpleasant circumstances. We tend to avoid those things that stretch us beyond what we think we can endure. We intentionally avoid accountability for our rebellion.
We regularly resist facing our inadequacy. We run from all that threatens rejection or ridicule or the truth about our real heart condition. We develop elaborate self-protective devises to keep people from seeing us as we really are. Humor, toughness, intellectualism, sarcasm, indifference, ignorance.
If we do not find a way to run and escape or if we feel trapped, sometimes like a cornered animal we turn and fight. Rather than submit to God we stiffen our necks and fight against Him. We fight God, we fight others, and perhaps we even turn against ourselves.