3 Important Truths for the Suffering Christian

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One of the greatest deceptions the church has peddled the world is that when we come to Christ, God takes all of our suffering away.

Just reading the New Testament, or knowing anything about church history, proves this to be false.

Jesus suffered. The apostles suffered.

In fact, all throughout the New Testament we read that our suffering is an honor, because it means we relate to Christ in this very special way.

Coming to Christ doesn’t absolve our lives of suffering, it just gives our suffering a greater purpose.

While I know that the Memes and jokes are just that, jokes, in a way I firmly believe that God has allowed the drama of 2020 to happen as a test.

If you read Revelation, you know that what we’re facing right now is nothing compared to what is to come.

Yes, the suffering has amped up a lot.

In fact, it’s like we read a new level of suffering each day.

One day it was riots in the streets, then Bibles were being burned in Portland, OR.

A couple of weeks later a Trump supporter was shot and killed in Portland.

It keeps compiling and we feel just what Jesus talked about “birth pangs” – they are getting closer and more intense.

Suffering – it is a tool in the hand of God to do great things in our life, if we will allow Him to do His work.

The danger is when God has his hammer and chisel, working at removing those things from our lives that distract and devalue our testimony, but we resist.

Our resistance results in Him having to hammer harder, removing much larger chunks of the gem He is shaping.

What could be a great ministry is made much smaller by our resistance to suffering.

When we embrace suffering, and when our response to suffering is “Lord, what are you trying to teach me right now?”, He can much more easily work in our lives – shaping and molding precious jewels in our life for His glory

3 Important Truths for the Suffering Christian

Paul opens up the book of 2 Corinthians by talking about suffering.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

This theme will thread through the five chapters we read this week, as we discover what God wants to teach us through our suffering.

But first, we must ask ourselves what brought on our suffering.

Sometimes, our suffering is brought on by sin; and God wants to purge our hearts of the defilement that is bringing on suffering.

Other times, He’s seeking to build your character (James 1:2-4) or wanting to lead you to a place of embracing His grace instead of trusting your own strength.

Does God create the suffering? No.

He only gives good things. But, in the book of Job we see that when the enemy wants to bring suffering into our lives, God will allow him to do so.

Remember, though, God keeps him on a short leash!

And what the enemy means for evil, God will use for good — he will use the suffering the enemy means to destroy us to bring about a glorious ministry!

1. God wants to turn your suffering into a ministry

“…who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

We see in this verse that in suffering God comforts us? Why?

So that we feel better? No. God comforts us in our suffering so that we can take that comfort of God and comfort others.

We become a pipe through which the comfort of God, given to us in our own suffering, can flow; giving that same comfort to others in their suffering.

This is why we must not make suffering the focus of our life.

It is very tempting to make our suffering our identity; even calling ourselves a chronic illness sufferer or an abuse victim.

This wrong focus will rob us of the ministry God wants to work through us.

Instead, we keep our focus on Christ and His victory in and through us; because in doing so we open the way for His comfort to flow in us and through us so that we minister to those around us who are suffering with that same comfort He has given to us.

Remembering that in our suffering, we come into the company of Christ, who Himself suffered.

What an honor to share company with Christ!

2. God wants to give you hope in your suffering

“Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.” 2 Corinthians 4:1

In times of suffering, it is so easy to get discouraged.

But in these first five chapters, we read over and over again about how God gives us hope, courage, and strength to walk through times of suffering victoriously!

He didn’t allow suffering to make us victims, but victors!

“Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God,” 2 Corinthians 5:5

Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22

I love this imagery of the “guarantee”.

God’s ultimate promise is that after this life we will live with Him for all eternity where there is no suffering or pain.

But He also knows that this life is hard, and we can get so bogged down by the suffering here that we forget His promise of eternal life in heaven.

So, He gave us our “Comforter”, the Holy Spirit, as a down-payment. A promise. The Promise of the Father…

With Whom we are filled upon salvation. But then Who completely saturates our being when we are baptized into Him (with the evidence of which is speaking in tongues).

This hope and comfort reminds us that while we suffer in our present body, if we surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, our inner man is being strengthened.

It is a dichotomy that Paul brings out in chapter 4.

“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body…Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-10. 16

3. God has hidden the gospel in our suffering

We literally carry in our suffering the gospel.

Our body is perishing, breaking down; our emotions feel overwhelmed and stressed out, our earthly mind tells us it is hopeless

yet, the Holy Spirit within us reminds us that our earthly death is bringing about eternal life…

He reminds us that our suffering may be “beyond measure, above strength, so that we despair even of life” (1:8), but it is not beyond God’s ability or strength…

He reminds us that our situation isn’t hopeless, instead “… we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (3:18)

What a beautiful message in suffering.

Death brings life, weakness gives way to strength, and hopelessness ends in glory.

All by the power of the Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead that dwells in us!

Dear sister, if you’re suffering today, either physically, mentally, emotionally, or with drama that is swirling around you right now, I pray that this study through 2 Corinthians will speak to your heart and help shift your gaze upward from whence cometh our help!

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