Recently, the Holy Spirit told me that I must once again enter trials, tests, and tribulations. My heart sank when I heard this news and for the past few weeks, every time I studied I arrived at the scriptures dealing with this subject. As a result of my studying, I see the glory of suffering for Christ and how the light of its glory shines in us. I noticed that Paul and Peter never ran from their testing, but embraced their trials as “dear friends.” They welcomed their sufferings and often said longingly that they wanted to know the sufferings of Christ. Paul said, Philippians 3:10-11 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. The Apostle Peter wrote: 1Peter 5:10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. Peter tells us the glorious and necessary spiritual work that suffering does within us. Suffering perfects, establishes, strengthens, and builds a strong spiritual foundation for our walk with Christ and God the Father.
As I studied the subject of sufferings, I became aware of a great truth that I had missed. Now, for the first time, I see that sufferings are a necessity for spiritual growth and development. As I look back I can see that each time I suffered I received great spiritual blessings in my heart, mind, and spirit. At the time of my testing my mind was only fixed on the problems and not the later changes and fruit they produced. This scripture is very important to bear in mind: 2Corinthians 4:17-18 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. God is saying to us that our sufferings are temporary, but the work that He accomplishes in us is eternal. He further states that the glory from our sufferings carries a far greater weight of importance to us than the trials we have suffered.
Paul states: 2Corinthians 4:11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. As we die to the flesh, those around us can begin to perceive Christ clearly in us. The ugliness and sins of our flesh always mar the view of Christ and His glory shining through us. I see now the reason for embracing the chastening of the Lord. Through every trial and test we can look and see the Lord’s goodness, love, mercy, and righteousness working in us for His glory. Acts 5:40-41 And they agreed with him (GAMALIEL, A DOCTOR OF THE LAW) and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.
The purpose of our lives is to have eternal fellowship with God and glorify His name. Our attitude toward the chastening of the Lord must be seen as an important part of bringing glory to God. Philippians 1:29-30 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me. My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; for whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a Father the son in whom he delights. We bring joy to the Father as we delight in being made in His image of perfection and virtue. 1Peter 2:21-23 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
Something God said to me, when He reluctantly told me I must undergo sufferings again, still rings in my ears. He said that if He could accomplish His works in me any other way, He would not send sufferings again. He said I must undergo His chastening if I want to partake of more of His divine nature. Hebrews 12:10-11 For they (OUR EARTHLY FATHERS) indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
The Bible teaches us that “in suffering we cease from sin.” If we are doing our best to be obedient, we are chastened out of God’s perfect “love” for us for our own spiritual good. A very important truth is that Christ puts our flesh to death so that we might be made spiritually alive. What a glorious thought; every time we die to the flesh we become more alive in the Spirit of Christ. 1Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit.
Did we not promise Christ to be faithful and to glorify Him with our lives? He told each of us to take up our cross and follow Him. The cross brings death to the flesh, but resurrection to our spiritual life and body. If we are willing to die with Him, we shall also “live with Him.” Hebrews 11:25-26 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
If we acknowledge God in all things, every trial and test becomes for us an experience with God. Every suffering for Christ brings consolation and comfort from the Spirit. 2Corinthians 1:5-7 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And, our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation. We learn from our own experiences to minister to others who are suffering and to give them the consolation Christ gave to us.
I believe the Holy Spirit is preparing all of us to face whatever trials and tests that await us in the future. How blessed we are because God prepares us. Our faith and trust cause us to see the eternal good that suffering produces in us. God is with us in every test and trial and He promises to always make a way for us to escape every temptation to fail or fear, etc. 1Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. We are his children and he never leaves nor forsakes us and his will and desire is for us to overcome every obstacle and the sin that besets us. 2Timothy 2:11 This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. 12 If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
~Share the Sufferings of Christ 1Peter 4:12-16 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
My heart aches for those of you going through sufferings and trials, but I know that if you have placed your life and trust in Christ that He will dry your tears when His work is finished within you. Psalms 30:5-8 For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning. Now in my prosperity I said, “I shall never be moved.” LORD, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong; You hid Your face, and I was troubled. I cried out to You, O LORD; And to the LORD I made supplication: Psalms 30:10-12 Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me; LORD, be my helper!” You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
In Christ’s great love for you,