Friday, December 17, 2010

We are Christians; we will suffer

Written by Reese Maguire

VOMC recently received some tweets via Twitter:

@VOMC Help me understand, pls. If Jesus said we were gonna share n His suffring b/c the world would hate us too...why r we complaining?

@VOMC I thought the Bible said to count it all joy? & that He would give us power to bear up under it?

If the Bible clearly tells us that we will suffer for His name’s sake, why then, as Christians, do we sometimes complain about suffering? And, why are we surprised when we suffer?

Now, there isn’t a post long enough to explore all the reasons why Christians suffer. Nor is there one long enough to cover the many issues that contribute to suffering or the explanations of those issues. So, I’ll simplify and say the Bible tells us that we will suffer and that we should be joyful when we do.

The Apostle Peter writes:
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. (1 Peter 4: 12-13 NKJV).
“Don’t be surprised.” We should never be surprised when we suffer for Christ’s name. Instead, we should anticipate it. In the West, however, we enjoy religious freedoms that allow us openly to represent Christ. We don’t anticipate suffering in that context.

“Be very glad.” James 1: 2-4 tells us why: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (NKJV). In joy, Christ endured the cross. In joy, we endure trials, tribulations and suffering.

Around the world, there are more than 50 nations without the religious freedoms of the West. Many, many Christians suffer because of it. Our goal at VOM Canada is to raise awareness of the suffering that exists, not to complain about it, because we know we will suffer. We want our fellow believers to know we suffer with them. And, we want you to know about their suffering so that you can join in prayer and help provide for their needs.

So, to recap, when it comes to suffering, Christians should:
  1. never be surprised, 
  2. be very glad and 
  3. consider it an opportunity for great joy. 
Please pray for our fellow brothers and sisters today!

1 comment:

  1. I think I would personally have a hard time telling a mother who is burying her beheaded daughter to just rejoice and she'll be fine (just one of thousands of stories). The verses that refer to rejoicing are meant as encouragement not condemnation, so I think we need to be careful how we in our world of ease approach those who have suffered beyond our imagination. Rejoice... why? Because great is our reward, because God is glorified through us, because Christ like character is the result, etc. "Rejoice!" is a reminder that all of these promises outweigh what would otherwise destroy us. There's also a lot of ink devoted to heart wrenching cries to God in the face of suffering (e.g. Psalms). If we look at God's response, it is one of compassion; He embraces the broken. Those who are not suffering are commanded to suffer with those who are (Heb. 13:3). Those who are suffering are commanded to rejoice in the eternal perspective that sees beyond the excruciating pain. I am concerned that we take the whole of scripture into account and that we not wield select passages to pad our own comfort zone. Are we really in a position to stand in judgment of our brothers and sisters?

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