You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, suffering–what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Inconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. ( 2 Timothy 3:10-12)
In the above scripture Paul isn’t talking about something he read or anything he had heard.
What Paul is telling Timothy to consider is his experience.
Just like Jesus, Paul went through some suffering.
Not only did Paul’s suffering give him experience but also lead him to experience the light of Jesus and that experience became his ministry.
The way we receive our ministry make a difference in the way we conduct our ministry.
I remember when the light of Christ first broke through me.
I was struggling with addiction and blinded like Paul (Acts 9:3-4), because I couldn’t see any hope for my future.
I had hit my bottom.
I fell to the ground and prayed for God to help me then the light of God’s glory shined on me at that defining moment.
God allowed me to experience suffering knowing it will become my ministry and give Him all the glory.
My suffering was His will for me and it’s His will for you too.
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. ( 1 Peter 4:19)
God doesn’t cause our pain-and-suffering, but he allow us to experience it so we should not be surprise instead we should rejoice knowing it’s all part of His plan to build our character.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trail you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the suffering of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13)
The main three reasons why God allow us to suffer are:
- It’s His will
- For us to get our experience and share those experiences with others
- To learn obedience
Experience is the best teacher.
You ever notice when someone share their experience how intense you listen?
That’s because when someone share their experience others can relate to it.
People get identification when our stories are authentic.
Where as someone sharing knowledge from a book or sharing their opinion, people find that hard to identify with and sometimes even harder to believe which make it that much harder to follow.
As Christians our mission, like Christ, is to get people to follow us.
God said to love Him first then love ourselves as our neighbors. Why?
Because when we put ourselves first, WE SUFFER!
Lets look at Romans 8:18 it says, “I consider that our present suffering are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed IN us.”
So if the glory revealed IN us that mean our suffering must come from INSIDE us as well.
Suffering starts and ends with you.
Your circumstances isn’t the cause of your pain-and-suffering it’s how you respond to them.
People see life through their self-centered glasses based on how they feel, what they think or what they want.
It’s always ALL about them.
They believe everything should go their way and believe people around them should do what they think they should do.
But when things don’t turn out the way they think they should turn out, they suffer with resentment, anger, worrying or trying to control.
That’s the wrong kind of suffering.
God wants us to suffer from doing the right thing for the right reason.
We always carry around IN our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed IN our body. For we who are alive are always being given over death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed IN our mortal body. So then, death is at work IN us, but life is at work IN you. ( 2 Corinthians 4: 10-11)
As you can see the death of Jesus and the life of Jesus are both inside us.
It’s a fight to do what’s right between our flesh and our spirit. Longsuffering is experiencing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The death of Jesus is our suffering. It’s God demonstrating his power to transform us and fill us with his goodness.
REFLECT ON THIS:
- What kind of pain affects you the most: physical, emotional or spiritual?
- How did the light of Christ first break through to you?
- What form does your suffering for Christ take?
Please leave your comments below so we can learn from each other’s experiences.
In part 2 we will go over how our suffering can lead us to obedience in Christ.