The Joy of Suffering

Sunday, Oct. 2                           

You won’t like this.  Neither do I.  It has to do with suffering and we don’t like suffering.  N.T. saints suffered a lot, at the hands of both the Jews and the Romans.   Our emotional response to that might be a bit on the tepid side—because we are not on the receiving end of it.  Maybe more sympathy than empathy.  The N.T. has a lot to say about suffering.  God allows suffering in order to achieve His purposes.  Satan is quick to take advantage of that, but he’s on a leash, and can only go so far.  The book of Job makes that clear.  According to 1 Pet. 3:9 we are called to suffer.  So how are we to respond to suffering?  In both 1 Pet. 4:13 and James 1:2 we are told to rejoice.  The rejoicing is not for  suffering per se, but for the results, which are also spelled out in Scripture.  Both Peter and James tell us that suffering is to mature us.  1 Pet. 4:1-2 and James 1:4.  By sharing in Christ’s suffering we will rejoice and be blessed.  1 Pet. 4:13-14.  Lettie B. Cowman has an interesting spin on this. “A badly bruised soul is one that is chosen.”  She affirms the Scriptural view of being chosen to suffer, and focuses on the effect of suffering—a bruised soul.  Suffering doesn’t just touch the body; it touches the soul.  But the bruising becomes a positive thing when we remember that we’re chosen, that Jesus is with un unto the end, and that we will eventually rejoice and be blessed.  I can’t say that I’m praying for more suffering, but maybe I’m a little better prepared for it.

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