Pastor Mike began a series of sermons this weekend at JBC on suffering. This Wednesday night as I continue my preaching through the book of Philippians, I will be on
Philippians 1:29, “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake”.
Isn’t that an interesting statement, “it has been granted to us”, which means, “Wow, we are incredibly blessed to get to suffer for a Jesus”! I bet not many of you get to the end of the day and say, “Thank You Jesus for the suffering that I went through today!”
Acts 5:40-41 after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.
You have got to be kidding me😳 they rejoiced because they got flogged! which was a very painful experience, many even dying from it. Why would they do that instead of complain and grumble and possibly even wondering if God really loved them? It seems like they had some understanding, some level of faith, and some character that most are missing today. Jesus is called the suffering savior, why? What was the purpose of His suffering?
Hebrews 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
Hebrews 5:8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.
So, let me make a few obvious observations about these 2 verses;
1. God the Father caused the suffering to happen to Jesus.
2. Jesus was almighty God, but He emptied Himself of all that He was as God, and became flesh just like us. Though He never sinned He was born without character, just like us, but the Father “perfected” Him, that is developed character in Jesus through suffering.
3. I am now a son of God, born again and adopted into His family, and I need the character of Jesus in me.
4. I am pretty sure that if Jesus needed to suffer to learn obedience to the Father, and to be made perfect in character, I do as well.
5. If God the Father “for whom are all things, and through whom are all things” brought suffering into the life of Jesus, He will bring suffering into my life as well, guaranteed.
So now the question is, “What am I going to do when that God caused suffering comes into my life? Feel sorry for myself, grumble and complain, wonder why this is happening to me, doubt God’s love for me, get bitter, all of the above, or can I choose to rejoice and ask God for the strength to endure with joy. If I choose to react the way the world as a whole does my suffering designed by God to build the character of Christ in me will have been wasted, but if I consider it all joy I will grow towards the goal of God of becoming “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”. I think I will choose to trust God with my life and rejoice always.
I agree. As Americans we don’t know how to suffer successfully, in general. “Never doubt God’s goodness” is a rare teaching today. The first time I heard this was in Blackaby’s “Experiencing God” 30 years ago. And I have been trying to learn it ever since. Thank you, Dee for this helpful reminder.
I have studied what the Bible says about suffering many times, and I have never read any commentary that was quite as ‘satisfying’ as this blog post. Usually when I’m done, I say to myself, “Yeah, but … ” and I remain unconvinced of the value of suffering to me personally, and I resolve to avoid it if at all possible.
Your blog post created a response in me which was previously unknown — for a moment, I actually entertained the idea that suffering might be a blessing to me, something that is ‘granted’ as a rare privilege. I wonder if God reserves some suffering for those who seek to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and let it do its work in their character?