Summary: A sermon examining the age old question "WHY?"
Why Do Christians Suffer?
In the village of Miango, Nigeria, there is a guest house and a small church called Kirk Chapel. Behind the chapel is a small cemetery with 56 graves. Thirty-three of them hold the bodies of children of Christian missionaries. The stones read: "Ethyl Arnold: September 1, 1928–September 2, 1928." "Barbara J. Swanson: 1946–1952." "Eileen Louise Whitmoyer: May 6, 1952–July 3, 1955." This was the cost of taking the gospel of Nigeria for many families. Charles White told his story about visiting this little graveyard and ended it with a tremendously powerful sentence. He said, "The only way we can understand the graveyard at Miango is to remember that God also buried his Son on the mission field." And when He raised Him from the dead, he called the church to follow Him into the same dangerous field called "all the world." The question we must answer is "are we willing to follow?" (http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/called-to-suffer-and-rejoice-for-holiness-and-hope)
Are you willing to follow Christ when it is difficult? Will you follow Him when it is dangerous? Will you follow Him if it causes pain, suffering and even death? As a Pastor one of the most common questions I am asked is “Why do bad things happen to good people”? We find ourselves in the midst of a time of trial or tribulation and we cry out to God and ask Him why??? The answer to that question is found in our selected text today. In Peter's first Epistle, suffering is a constant theme. Now as he nears the end of the letter he provides some insight as to why God allows His children to suffer. I invite you to Join me as we answer the question "Why Do Christians Suffer?
Though we cannot avoid suffering in this life, through the Word of God we can see how to endure it! Notice in verse 12:
I. The Reality Of Suffering - v12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you
No matter who you are there will come a time when you face pain, troubles and trials. I want to examine 3 types of suffering today, the first of which is:
A. Common Suffering - In Matthew 5:45 Jesus said that the Father "makes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."
Consider Calvary for a moment. There were 2 crosses and 3 different people. There was a Saint, a Sinner and a Savior crucified that day. And all three of them suffered and died. None of them were exempt from suffering and death. Our minds have a hard time comprehending why bad things happen to "good" people. And we may also question why good things happen to evil people. Though we may not understand it, these things are commonplace.
The wisest man who ever lived said that "All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness." (Ecclesiastes 7:15)
All over the world people are dying from starvation. Droughts leave people thirsty and cause crops to fail. Hurricanes, Tsunamis & earthquakes ravage the land. Many people live in the middle of war zones. Terrorism is on the rise. Millions of people suffer from different diseases. Unemployment, lack of healthcare and rising costs of utilities and food are a problem for many. This is common suffering that takes place all over the world. None of us are exempt.
There is another type of suffering I would like to consider and that is:
B. Carnal Suffering - Carnal refers to that which is not spiritual. Notice what Peter says in verse 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. - Here Peter speaks of suffering for doing things that are wrong. Many people are suffering because of the choices they have made. If you fail to pay your taxes your assets may be seized and your wages may be garnished. If you drink and drive you will get a DUI and possibly lose your license. If you rob someone you will be arrested and spend time in jail. If you kill someone you will go to prison... possibly for the rest of your life. Bad choices and sinful actions bring severe consequences.
Many times when people face this type of suffering they blame God. When in fact they are suffering because of their own choices. They drink a half a case of beer a day and when they get cirrhosis of the liver it is God's fault. They consume illegal drugs and blame God when they lose their job and all of their possessions in order to support their habit. Some abuse their spouse or commit adultery and then ask why God allowed their marriage to fail. Choices have consequences and the consequences may bring suffering.