BIBLE READING: PHILIPPIANS 3:10; JAMES 1:2-4; MATTHEW 4:1; MARK 10:29-31; ACTS 14:22
“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.” 1Peter 5:10 (NKJV).
Suffering is an integral part of the Salvation Package which every Christian believer is privileged to partake of. The Bible categorically stated this truth as seen in the attitude of the Apostles during the Early Days of the Church: “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name” Acts 5:41 (KJV).
Suffering for the Sake of Christ Jesus and His Kingdom in the Early Church was a thing of joy (see Jam. 1:2) mainly because our faith in Him isn’t known until it is tested.This is so critical because until you are tested, you cannot become a testimony.
For the purpose of clarity, it is imperative to note that there is a difference between the EXAMPLE of Christ in suffering and the SUBSTITUTION of Christ in suffering. Apostle Peter stated: “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His Steps” 1Pet. 2:21 (NKJV).
You see, Jesus took our place as our Substitute, suffering the Crucifixion during the Passion Week so that we wouldn’t have to. However, He also suffered being reviled, persecuted and spoken against, serving as our Example in how to act whenever we face the same circumstances (see 1Pet. 2:22-23).
Suffering for the Sake of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Kingdom is also part of the Way of the Spirit whereby we can trace God in the midst of all the circumstances we face daily (see Ecc. 11:5). There are four different categories of suffering every believer must go through during our Christian Journey in order to become the mature believer God can rely on:
- Trials: These are tests that are directly initiated by God Himself (see 2Cor. 6:4). The Greek Word for “afflictions” in the aforementioned Scripture is “thlipsis” which literally means “tests or trials”. Worthy of note is the fact that God never uses sickness or infirmities to afflict His children (see Acts 10:38).
- Temptations: These are tests that are directly initiated by the devil himself (see Jam. 1:13-15). He tempts believers in a bid to undermine their faith and produce sin consciousness within them, diminishing their confidence in the Lord (see Lk. 22:31-32).
- Persecutions: These are tests that are directly initiated by people or individuals who oppose the Move of God in a believers life, knowingly or unknowingly (see Matt. 5:11-12). Every Christian must willingly embrace persecution because it comes with the territory (see 2Tim. 3:12).
- Tribulations: These are tests that are directly initiated by the environment believers find themselves in (see Jn. 16:33). For instance, some governments are antagonistic towards the Gospel and put up all sorts of roadblocks to impede the Move of God. All the same, Jesus is still building His Church on the Rock and the gates of hell can never prevail against the Body of Christ (see Matt. 16:18). Whatever the form of suffering for His Sake, we remain continuously confident that even though satan means it for evil, the Lord will always turn it around for our good (see Gen. 50:20). Glory to His Holy Name!
Heavenly Father, we glorify Your Holy Name for deeming us worthy to suffer for the Sake of the Gospel. O Lord, please grant us the Wisdom to distinguish each category of suffering and identify Your Hand behind the scenes in Jesus’ Mighty Name. Amen.