Are You Willing to Suffer for Christ?

Today, I want to talk about the suffering Christians face as followers of Christ and how we can still find joy through the suffering.

While reading this blog post, I want you all to ask yourself this question: Am I willing to endure suffering for Christ?

What does it mean to Suffer for Christ?

Well, the word suffer comes from the Hebrew word Oni which means “misery” or “poverty”. To suffer for Christ is something that we as Christians talk about and preach about, but we never actually discuss because we feel that we already know what it means. But do we? In Philippians 1:29, the Apostle Paul says that as Christians, we will suffer for Christ because we have faith in Christ and Paul says that suffering for Christ is actually a gift from God because it’s in the suffering that He comforts us.

Philippians 1:29

29. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.

In the verse above, you can see how Paul says that as Christians, because of our belief and faith in Christ, we will suffer for His sake. I recently read a blog post by Angela of The Abundant Heart entitled, “The Purpose of Suffering” where she speaks on the topic of suffering. In the blog post, Angela says a statement that I think we as Christians forget when it comes to suffering saying, “… suffering is a natural part of the Christian life, but we can have joy in the midst of it.”

In my opinion, suffering for Christ is what Christ Himself said we would go through when we follow Him. In her blog post, Angela gives several reasons as to why Christians should suffer for Christ.

  • “That unbelievers might come to salvation.”
  • “That believers might be more bold to speak the Word without fear.”
    • “Physical comfort is of little importance when your eyes are filled with the sight of heaven.”
    • “As Paul said later in that same chapter, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
    • “Man has no power but what God gives him… His ways are so much higher than ours.”
  • “When God places me in the tumbler of suffering and begins to turn the handle, it hurts excruciatingly.”
    • “But when His perfect work is finished, He will pull me out and present me to the Father as a smooth, polished stone, beautiful and fit to be set as a jewel in His crown.”
  • “Suffering is temporary, but glory is eternal.”
    • “I am never alone, for my Lord goes with me through all my suffering.”
  • “Understanding that suffering has a multi-faceted purpose makes it that much easier to bear”

I remember my pastor did a Wednesday Bible Study called, “Your Attitude Determines your Altitude” where he talks about our attitude but he also talks about suffering. I remember that he talked about the Apostles and how, after they were beaten by the Sadducees and the Pharisees; they rejoiced because they knew that they were counted as worthy of being His disciples.

In Acts 5:41 it says, “41. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.” The fact that the Apostles were willing to rejoice after being beaten should give us as Christians a better understanding of the type of suffering we may have to endure for Him. In the Bible, there were many disciples who suffered for Christ; even died for their beliefs (like Stephen.)

Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Sometimes, God will allow suffering in our lives in order to strengthen us and our faith as Christians like Job; who lost everything but he held onto his faith and was rewarded with more than he originally had. In 1 Peter 3:14, it says, “14. But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled” and that should be a verse that we as Christians and people keep in mind when we are unsure if we are willing to suffer persecution for Christ’s sake.

Blogger Amazing Tangled Grace wrote a blog post called, “Thorns” where he talked about his own thorns but also talked about suffering. In the blog post, he said, “I realize that I must share in Christ’s sufferings, so that I may rejoice fully when his glory is revealed to the world” and that is a statement that we as Christians should take to heart because it is in that suffering that we can rejoice; just like the Apostles.

C.S. Lewis said, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny”.    

In 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, Paul is saying to the Corinthians that although there is suffering to come, there is also glory saying, “17. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory 18. 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.”

I like this verse because, in it, Paul is trying to tell us that although our suffering is light; it is only for a moment while on Earth, but it is because of that suffering that we are moving towards a better and eternal reward. Paul is also trying to tell us that as Christians., the physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual suffering that we face or will face is temporary and that what we don’t see (the greater reward) is eternal.

I recently watched a YouTube video entitled, “Why Is There Suffering In the World?” where Jefferson Bethke focuses on this very subject. In the video, he said, “… when death and suffering and brokenness get thrown at us and everything in us screams God where are you that in that moment we might have ears to hear that small whisper in our soul that says I’m right here next to you…”

I think the statement above should give us as Christians and people a better idea of what we say when suffering happens because we have all done it. But if we just listen and drown out the pain, then maybe we would be able to hear God’s voice comforting us and reminding us that He has never left our side.  In the video, he says several quotes that I feel should be a reminder to us of what God has done and will do when we go through suffering.

  • “the Christian God is a God who suffers…”
    • “… a God who enters into our world, came on or turf and identifies with our pain.”
  • “See when we look up we see not a God who is high and lofty and distant but one who was bloody, who is tortured and who is alone.”
    • “… the One who said I will go before them and I will drink death’s cup so they don’t have to.”
    • “The Lamb that was slain steps out of the grave three days later like a lion…”
  • “I love how John Stott puts it. He says we have to learn to climb the hill called Calvary and from that vantage point and survey all of life’s tragedies because the cross does not solve the problem of suffering but it supplies the essential perspective from which to look at.”
    • “… it is this terrible character of God which the cross of Jesus completely smashes to smithereens”
    • “… and since we are not alone but we follow the One who defeated death when it comes we can stare it right in the face and say you do not have the last word see Jesus is alive and so Death, Where is your sting?”

Levi Lusko said, “Suffering isn’t an obstacle being used by God. It is an opportunity to be used like never before. Run towards the roar.”

I recently read a devotional by Lizzie Milani entitled, “Weakness and Suffering” where she talks about suffering. In the devotional, she said, “… in our moment of self-realisation and weakness; when we surrender over to our reality and the reality of our being held by someone greater, and in something greater; it is at that moment that we find our true strength. In Christ, through Christ.”

This quote reminded me of 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 where Paul had a thorn in his side and asked God to remove it, but God’s response should give us Christians today a sense of why God sometimes keeps the thorn in our side. In 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, it says, “8. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.

This reminded me of the song by Christian artist Plumb called, “Need You Now (How Many Times)” where she sings about how we suffer and we cry out to God for help, but He continues to give us strength through the affliction.

Chorus

How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this”?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Even in the end of days, where our faith in Christ will be put to the test, the Apostles Paul and John tell us to hang on and push through the suffering because there is a better and eternal reward up ahead.

In 1 Thessalonians 3:4-5, we see Paul tell the people of Thessalonica that their faith would be tested and that he hoped that when tested, they won’t allow the tempter (Satan) to tempt them away from Christ’s Word saying,”4. For in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you now. 5. For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain.

This is a unique parallel to Revelations 2:10 where John warns those Christians in the End of Days that we shouldn’t fear the upcoming suffering because the Devil will throw us into prison and will try and tempt us away from God. Revelations 2:10 says, “10. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed the devil is about to throw some of you into prison that you may be tested. Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life.

This should be a good reminder for us as Christians; knowing that in the end even if the suffering costs us our life and we are faithful to Christ until death; we will be rewarded with the crown of life. In the end times, Satan will continue to torture and kills Christians, but if we remain faithful to Christ and push past the suffering, there is joy on the other side.

Mother Teresa said, “Suffering is nothing by itself. But suffering shared with the passion of Christ is a wonderful gift, the most beautiful gift, a token of love.”

In the end, as Christians; we should be willing to suffer for Christ because when we chose to accept Him as our Lord and Savior of our lives, we know that there are going to be risks following after Him but that shouldn’t deter us from seeking the eternal reward in Heaven.

If we focus on the suffering on Earth, we will lose sight of why we chose to follow Christ. Regarding my question at the beginning of the post, I am willing to stand up for my faith and even suffer physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually if it means that I am faithful to Christ.

So, what are you willing to do?

Are you willing to Suffer for Christ?

Or, will you be tempted and refuse to suffer for Christ despite the greater, eternal blessing from God?

 

God’s Blessings,

Joshua Reid

 

References

Amazing Tangled Grace. “Thorns”, 11 Jun 2017, https://amazingtangledgrace.wordpress.com/2017/06/11/thorns/ . Accessed 30 Oct 2017.

Bethke, Jefferson. “Why Is There Suffering In the World”, YouTube, uploaded by Jefferson Bethke, 2 years ago, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_ESjoVyYGw . Accessed 27 Oct 2017.

Mother Teresa. “Suffering is nothing by itself. But suffering shared with the passion of Christ is a wonderful gift, the most beautiful gift, a token of love.” http://www.azquotes.com/quote/408055 , Accessed 03 Nov 2017.

Milani, Lizzie. “Weakness and Suffering”, pktfuel.com,  https://www.pktfuel.com/weaknesses-and-suffering/ . Accessed 29 Oct 2017.

Plumb. “Need You Now (How Many Times)”, YouTube, uploaded by buyakga1946, 4 years ago, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqdxFW2GaF0&feature=youtu.be . Accessed 01 Nov 2017.

Rueger, Angela. “The Purpose of Suffering”, 16 Jun 2017, theabundantheart.wordpress.com, https://theabundantheartblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/16/the-purpose-of-suffering/ . Accessed 01 Nov 2017.

 

Picture References

Afrik, Selah. “Suffering For Christ”, 22 Jan 2013, http://selahafrik.com/2013/01/suffering-for-christ/ . Accessed 26 Oct 2017.

Author Unknown. “Perspective On Your Present Sufferings and Future Resurrection!”, 13 Apr 2017, https://trinityandhumanity.com/2017/04/13/perspective-on-your-present-sufferings-and-future-resurrection/ . Accessed 01 Nov 2017.

Author Unknown. “Acts 5:41”, https://i.pinimg.com/736x/9b/27/a5/9b27a5305e0ace57354651ab3fc263a7–acts–rockers.jpg . Accessed 02 Nov 2017.

Author Unknown. “Revelation 2:10 HD Wallpaper”, http://www.godswordimages.com/wallpaper/faith/revelation-2-10/ . Accessed 03 Nov 2017.

 

 

Author Unknown. “2 Corinthians 4:17 – See the Unseen.”, https://www.heartlight.org/gallery/2388.html . Accessed 03 Nov 2017.

Author Unknown. “Verse of the Week: 2 Corinthians 12:8-9”, 22 Feb 2016, http://mopsfbc.blogspot.com/2016/02/verse-of-week-2-corinthians-128-9.html . Accessed 02 Nov 2017.

Lewis, C.S. “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny”, https://www.askideas.com/hardships-often-prepare-ordinary-people-for-an-extraordinary-destiny/ . Accessed 29 Oct 2017.

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19 thoughts on “Are You Willing to Suffer for Christ?

  1. Hello Joshua, excellent post. You know that 3 verses down from the verse that you posted…”In 1 Peter 3:14, it says, “14. But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed.”

    1 Peter 3:17 says, For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

    God’s will and purpose is for us to suffer for righteousness sake, why though?

    1. It will show that we have genuine faith in Christ.
    2. Faith only grows through trials.
    3. To become comforters we must suffer the same as others to be equipped with a testimony so that we can encourage others to seek Jesus.

    Like

    • Thank you so much for the comment SpaniardVIII. As Christians, even though it’s a topic that we don’t like to discuss; we should still be mindful that suffering for Christ isn’t a cruel thing. Suffering for Christ is actually a blessing in disguise because it is when we are in the midst of our suffering that God can work best.

      Sometimes, what we feel is too much personal suffering might just be God trying to reveal something new to you about Him, use your suffering as a testimony to impact others, or it could be used to strengthen you and encourage you and remind you that He is always there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent post. Interestingly, as i am reading this post, the preacher on TBN is preaching on a message related to this. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence. I believe this is the message for this season.

    The major challenge i think we have in christendom is that many people have been pampered and made to think that christianity is a sweet sweet journey. How can we expect to receive Christ without the suffering?

    The “that is not your portion” and “claim ABC” messages aren’t helping either. People must be made to understand the total package of following Christ. We want to do what the apostles did. We want to heal the sick, raise the dead, etc except enduring the pain in prisons, summon before the government, being verbally abused and facing all round persecution for Christ sake. We want a filtered form of christianity.

    This morning, a topic “Why me?” came into my mind to write about. It will be my next post. We need to leave the pacifying stage and embrace the whole of Christ and the cross. We want deliverance and answered prayers to EVERYTHING. However the apostles didn’t get an answered prayer to EVERYTHING.

    I know this isn’t easy but understanding and accepting that this is our reality and truth is the first step. When you go into a battle well informed and prepared, you are more likely to conquer.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well said Efua and thank you for the comment. I like what you said, ” I don’t believe it’s a coincidence. I believe this is the message for this season” and that happened to me before so maybe God is trying to tell us something that can benefit us when the same topic is spoken one-after-the-other.

      I like your statement when you said, “The “that is not your portion” and “claim ABC” messages aren’t helping either. People must be made to understand the total package of following Christ. We want to do what the apostles did.” and I think that is a very powerful statement. If we are just lack-luster in our efforts to follow Him and we don’t endure the suffering; how are we then going to be able to receive all that God has in store for us.

      I really liked your quotes:

      1).”We need to leave the pacifying stage and embrace the whole of Christ and the cross.” and
      2). “When you go into a battle well informed and prepared, you are more likely to conquer.

      It’s interesting right, that we always scream at God: “Why are you letting me suffer?” or “Why did (this person) have to suffer?” but never stop and think about Why? and go to His Word.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “It’s interesting right, that we always scream at God: “Why are you letting me suffer?” or “Why did (this person) have to suffer?” Very true! This is exactly the reason i wrote my blog which will go live tomorrow. Keep up the good work.

        Like

    • Thank you, Cyn for the thoughtful comment. For me, the thought of suffering for Christ was not something that I wanted to do because I thought that all I had to do was “be a Christian” and do X-Y-Z. Now though, I am proud to say that I am willing to suffer for Christ because I know that despite the pain I may go through; God is always with me and will never leave.

      Has there ever been a time where you questioned the thought of Suffering for Christ?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Quite honestly, Josh? I don’t like suffering. My humanity would prefer not to suffer. After all, suffering by its very nature isn’t pleasant. Yet, when God has asked me to suffer, I have been obedient, have rejoiced in the depth of relationship with Christ that suffering produces, and have been thankful for the opportunities it has provided for me to share Christ and encourage others. I think that if faith is genuine, when push comes to shove, we will choose to suffer rather than to deny our Savior. And that’s my take-away from your incredibly thought-provoking post! By the way, I so appreciate your blog!! Your posts are always well-reasoned, thoughtful and well researched! Excellent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lynn, for the comment. Like you, I don’t like suffering and just the thought of it makes me cringe. However, when we suffer, we as Christians have to remember that God always has a reason for the pain and suffering we go through.

      I really liked your quote: ” I think that if faith is genuine, when push comes to shove, we will choose to suffer rather than to deny our Savior.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • By the way, I love that Plumb song! Yes, so true. And that brings incredible hope, doesn’t it? Your post, thoughts and exposition of scripture are always powerful and on target! And I so admire your willingness to tackle tough questions! God is greatly using you!

        Like

      • Thank you Lynn for the comment.

        I absolutely love that song by Plumb becuase it shows us how much we need God and that when we cry put for God to take the suffering from us, He might not because He knows that it will make us stronger.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, and I forgot to say that a number of us seem to be mulling over this theme right now. And you just beautifully and succinctly pull it all together Biblically for the rest of us. 🙂I love that. I revisited this theme in my “pick-me-up” post (those posts are reviews of themes from previous posts) and then I came here this morning and saw your reply to my comment! Wow. So awesome! You nailed it. Actually, you always do! 😊

        Like

      • Thank you so much, Lynn, for the wonderful comment. When I do these blog posts, I want them to apply to our lives spiritually because although we can fight the things that we can see, we have to able to fight the unseen as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Amen, the depth of this post and the research behind it are powerful, encouraging, and thought provoking. It’s a blessing to know Christ suffered first, and we will suffer like Him. Whatever I go through, I cling to the truth, I’m not alone, and He is right there with me. 🙂

    Like

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