Thursday, September 8, 2011

Suffering & Its Reward

"It is good for me that I have been afflicted" (Psa. 119:71).

 Usually when we suffer we can only see the problems involved. Surely if we commit sin as a result, then the suffering is harmful. But if we remain faithful, there are favorable results that can occur.
 Consider a few.

Suffering Gives Us Opportunity to Prove Our Commitment to God.

 1 Peter 1:6,7 - As gold is purified by passing through fire, so the genuineness of our faith is proved by trials.

 If suffering was limited to sinners and Christians never suffered, all people would want to be Christians, not because they really loved God, but just to avoid earthly problems.  

The fact that Christians suffer too means that suffering "separates the men from the boys" - it shows who is willing to remain faithful even when it is hard to do so. (Acts 5:40-42; 1 Cor. 11:19; 1 Peter 4:12)

Suffering Causes Spiritual Growth.

James 1:2-4 - Count it joy when we face trials (hardly the natural reaction), because this leads to patience and completeness in God's service.  

Romans 5:3-5 - Rejoice in tribulations because they work steadfastness, approvedness, and hope.  

Even in the physical realm, which bones and muscles are the strongest? The ones that face the most hardship.  Trials defeat some people but strengthen others. It depends on how we deal with them.

Suffering Keeps Us Humble and Dependent on God.

2 Corinthians 1:8-10 - Affliction taught Paul not to trust in himself, but in God. God has repeatedly allowed countries to face wars, famines, and hardships when they became independent and failed to trust Him.

Often this shows people their need for God.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 - Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was a messenger from Satan, yet God allowed it to remain because it kept Paul from becoming too proud over the many revelations he had received. From weaknesses, God can produce great strength.

Genesis 50:20 - Joseph explained that his brothers had mistreated him, but God used that as a means to save the family from famine.  
Satan puts trials in our lives to harm us. Yet one of the greatest demonstrations of God's power is His ability to take those problems and use them to accomplish good. The greatest example of this is the death of Christ. Satan intended it as a defeat for God and all mankind, yet it ended up as the salvation of all mankind. (1 Peter 2:21-24) 

Think for a moment of the really important things in life. How many of them are accomplished without hardship? Birth of a baby? Working to care for our families? Our eternal salvation? Suffering is an inherent part of everything good! 

So Satan sends trials to harm us, but God can make them come out in the end for our good (Romans 8:28). But this works only if we remain faithful.

Faithful Christians will suffer. Yet the Christian's life is still the best, because only faithful Christians have the assurance that we can endure, that God will help us, that the result will be for our good, and that in the end we will have eternal life.
 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" - Philippians 4:13.

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