Sufferings of a Christian; Message for a New Christian
Sufferings of a Christian
Yesterday I witnessed the baptism of a few people who decided to follow Christ. Following Christ is not an easy job. I remembered the time when our parents were set out to follow Jesus and worshiped Lord Jesus in truth and spirit. It was in the last part of 1975. They are from a conservative family. Lived among a conservative society. So it was very difficult for them to survive in their faith. They have to go through may troubles and suffering because of their faith.
They had to suffer material loss, financial loss, cruel and abusive words etc. They found the happiness in Christ. That happiness is greater than anything else in this world. They suffered their part. They asked like Paul asked "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?"
Life of the son of a newly converted parents were not so easy. I had to gone through many sufferings. Friends made fun of me and our faith. They used abusive words to insult me in front of other friends. I couldn't understand why they are behaving like that. I thought my parents did something terrible. I thought it is better to follow the custom than these abusive words and insults. People stop inviting us for the social functions. Our immediate relatives also tied to avoid us. Wherever we went, we find insulting people because of our new found faith. When I got back to my parents they showed me a bible verse. " Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
I can understand and suffer the insults heaped on us by the old guys and friends of my age group. When I found small children who should respect me are using bad languages and abusing me for our faith. Anger welled up in my mind. I wanted to take revenge. I wanted to hit and make them flat. But at that time I remembered the words that taught by my mother that we should love our enemy. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.
Then my mother showed me the bible verse: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
It was like God is tying my hands and putting me in the midst of people who want to insult and abuse me. When I stop responding to their insults and abuses they done it with more intensity. Life become a hell. Wherever I went I found people laughing at me. Then I came to God in prayer and asked why you have made me like this. Is it for getting abuse and insults that I have born? Why you created me? I wished for God to send fire on the people who insult and abuse me. But it didn't happened. My suffering continues. Instead of praying for punishment for the enemy, bible teaches that pray for those who persecute you! "What a strange teaching!" I thought. There is something wrong with the Bible.
People who are good and reputed in the society as well as the people who are living immoral life like thieves, drunkards and people of low esteem were insulting us with bad words. Often it tempted me to become violent. Then I realized that I am going against the God. There is no use for such a life. Only sufferings, losses and abuses and insults will be the rewarded. I was asking God why you created me. I thought God created me to be a doormat. My life become like a doormat.
Christin life is like the life of a doormat.
You know what is the life of a doormat? It is there for everyone to step on and clean their feet and shoes. They go the the dirt. But when they come back they clean their feet on the doormat. People went around and walk along the dirt and filth of the world. But when they come back, they clean all the dirt and filth on the doormat. Doormat has no right to protest. Doormat has no right to take a stick and beat the people who clean their filth on it. It has to stay there always to step on by the high and the low, young and old. To step on it. Clean their feet. Go away without saying a word of thank you.
“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”
For a Christian, his right is only suffering and say thank you to those who persecute you. When you filled with dust and dirt, they will take you out and beat you out all the dust and clean you. They will step on your chest and beat on your back to clean you. That is what the life of a doormat. A Christian is like a doormat. As per the teachings of Jesus, he has only the right to suffer. No protest, no resistance, nothing. But only suffering. For cleaning also they will beat you out all the dust. Problems from within and outside.
Christin life is like the life of a dustbin.
We can compare the life of a Christian to a dustbin. People through all the filthy things into you. All the dirt and filth you can imagine can be thrown on you. It will stay open at the corner to receive all the filth. When it receive the filth, it has the right only to say thank you. No protest, no resistance, no run away, only suffering. Often you will be cleaned to put more and new filth within you.
Then I went to the feet of Jesus. He told me to not to worry. He said that he also suffered a lot. He also went through the same situations. He was beaten. Spitted. made fun of him. They took his cloths and made him a public show. Hurled insults upon Him. He had to bare the cross. At last they crucified him.
As per prophet Isaiah: "He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces, he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God,stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
As per Mathew: Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
See a powerful Jesus being like a powerless human being and enduring sufferings. Again see: They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
What a shameful end for a powerful man? But above all this one thing is very interesting and motivate us to endure all the sufferings. That is his Resurrection.
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
His resurrection gives us hope. He has gone to make a place for us. That is the hope a Christian has. Jesus is preparing a place for his followers. He will come back and take us to him and there will be joy and happiness. That is whey we are suffering without any complaint and grudge. Don't expect Christina life is an easy life. There will be troubles and temptations. Those who overcome will reign with him.
In Revelation He says "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown. That is the hope which motivate a Christian to live a Christian life.
Now let us look at Apostle Paul's sufferings.
Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I
also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they
Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are they
servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more.
I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged
more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I
received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was
beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was
shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been
constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger
from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles;
in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and
in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have
often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often
gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything
else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who
is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not
inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show
my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be
praised forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the governor
under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to
arrest me. But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and
slipped through his hands.
Compared to Paul's sufferings, my sufferings are nothing. So I am glad that God is with me and taking care of me. God uses me to help those who are in need. It was a joy to help those who accused me and insulted me. It is my pleasure to be the handy work of my God. To make a piece of Iron into a good sword, blacksmith had to put it in the fire and hit it many times. By allowing us to go through the sufferings he is making us a good weapon to use for his glory. So let us submit ourselves to him who give us grace to endure all sufferings.