WHY MUST I SUFFER?
Enduring To The End
Persecution and suffering is a very real part of the Christian experience. To be a Christian it is necessary to understand this truth.
This article is taken from my book 'Awaken O'Sleeper'.
Listen to what the Lord told Ananias, a disciple at Damascus; but the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." Acts 9:15, 16
Living in a world that is permeated with evil, we should not be surprised when we have to endure much suffering. We, being empowered from on high, are called upon to be living examples to the world. Some might argue that suffering for any reason does not make any sense. Nevertheless, we all know as long as we are in this world we will experience a certain amount of suffering. Since this is quite evident, there must be some distinction between suffering as a believer and suffering as a non-believer. What is that distinction?
The Apostle Paul tells us that suffering, in the Christian life, is suppose to produce something. Something that would be recognizable in our lives. Writing to the Christians in Rome Paul had this to say, "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance." Romans 5:3 RSV
Paul tells us that suffering should produce patience. Depending on how we deal with suffering, and where our source of strength is, will determine whether we become bitter or patient. God has a plan for you and me. He wants us to be aware of the future glory, a sure hope. He canonized that hope for us in His written word saying this: "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." Romans 8:18. We are to look toward the glory, not at the suffering. The suffering is merely an opportunity, not a tragic punishment.
God, through His Church, proves to the world that enduring through all kinds of hardships, persecutions and sufferings, and never compromising His word or conforming to the ways of the world is not just a hope, but a 'proven' hope. From the very conception of the Church, it has been suffering persecution. Paul said, "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong." II Corinthians 12:10. We as believers in Christ show our dependency on God, and prove that our hope is in Him by our willingness to suffer persecution for his sake, not allowing anything or anyone to deviate us from our goal, which is to be imitators of Jesus Christ. He is our perfect example.
He suffered so much for us, we could never repay Him for all that he did. All we can do is show that it was not all done in vain: Instead, in everything we do we show that we are God's servants by patiently enduring troubles, hardships, and difficulties. We have been beaten, jailed, and mobbed; we have been overworked and have gone without sleep or food. By our purity, knowledge, patience, and kindness we have shown ourselves to be God's servants - by the Holy Spirit, by our true love, by our message of truth, and by the power of God. We have righteousness as our weapon, both to attack and to defend ourselves." II Corinthians 1:4-7 TEV
"We must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God," they said. Acts 14:22b NIV