Do We Have to Suffer?
In the last chapter, I talked about how we can endure suffering. But that leads to the question of our need to suffer.
I’m aware of a few viewpoints on this. Dr. John McArthur said, “God wants you to suffer,” in his book, Found, God’s Will.
I’ll admit I wanted to reject that statement, but I thought about it in a few different ways. I’m respectfully not wiling to go so far as to say what God wants is the suffering for its own sake, but I know that God wants us to follow Him, and in this world of sin and judgement, that path will lead to suffering.
Thus far in my reading of Acts, Paul has been stoned, beaten with rods, imprisoned, and beaten by a mob, and this was all after he was blinded by Christ’s radiance in his conversion.
Then there is our Savior Christ, who suffered, bled, and died on the cross for our sins. If we are to be like Christ, must not we pick up our cross and follow him( Matthew 16:24)? Does that not necessarily mean we must suffer?
However, this might lead people to make themselves suffer or foolishly place themselves in harm’s way in a misguided effort to please God, and that’s not the same thing.
Those who live a life dedicated to Christ are indeed going to suffer. They suffer in a fleshly way because they deny themselves temptations others may delight in. This discipline honors God because it shows we’re willing to choose Him over temptation.
Christians suffer for their faith. There are a lot of causes for this. Sometimes my faith is insulted because of something people claiming to be Christian do or say, and sometimes it’s because of some very well-known Christian views on sex, gender, abortion, and marriage. There are people who passionately disagree with these views and aren’t shy about how they express that. I personally don’t see the point in debating the issue. I think what I think, and I don’t expect I’ll change someone else’s opinion. They think what they think, and I’m not going to sow discord or anger over an issue where I’m not going to change someone’s mindset. But it hurts seeing those “witty” “Christians are stupid because” posts I see on social media every day.
To date, while I’ve absolutely suffered, I wouldn’t say I’ve suffered for the sake of Christ per-se. I haven’t been accosted or beaten. I haven’t been insulted or spat on. So does that mean I’m being disobedient to God? I think this is what causes a lot of confusion with people.
I don’t want to over think it. I’m positive that today’s troubles are sufficient for themselves (Matthew 6:34). So my theory remains. I think a person truly seeking God will inevitably suffer for their faith. How we endure that suffering is an opportunity to glorify God. I think that human beings, regardless of their faith, are going to suffer.
Twice since this book began, I’ve been exposed to COVID-19, and twice, thanks be to God and Gis mercy, I have been protected and free from that disease. For any thinking to misread that and say that no “Christians” catch COVID, that’s not what I said. If I did catch the disease, that would also be God’s sovereign will, and that would have been an opportunity to glorify Him. I’m not asserting that “Christians won’t catch COVID;” I’m only giving the glory to Him for protecting me and my family to this date.
My mother passed away. I’ve been separated from people I love for short and long periods, and periods that haven’t even ended yet. Suffering comes to us all, and this is because of sin. The curse of sin brought pain, suffering, and death to this world. All of that stems from our father Adam, who disobeyed God’s one command. His disobedience led to our curse.
It was Christ, the second Adam, who’s obedience grants us our salvation. That salvation is possible because Christ chose to lay His life down for us (John 10:18). He accepted that suffering for us, so when suffering comes in our lives, we endure it for His sake.
For our panel: Does God truly want us to suffer or is it just an inevitable part of life we face when we live as Christians? What parts of scripture prove or disprove this? If we are indeed supposed to suffer are we then supposed to seek that suffering? What is the reason for suffering (We know the cause is Sin, but for what reasons)? What do we gain from suffering?