Glory in Suffering

July 14, 2019
Suffering is something that everybody dreads. It is because suffering is often painful and the outcome is unpredictable - some come out unscathed while others receive its brunt. Even believers suffer. But while we all suffer, the apostle Peter said, “If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:15-16). Suffering is part and parcel of life. However, we can choose to respond positively by always trusting in the grace of God for deliverance, or we can respond negatively and live a miserable life of complaining and murmuring.

Suffering is real and not imaginary. It can weaken the sturdiest of believers. Even King David was not spared from sufferings. When he reached the point where he felt so abandoned, he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?” (Psalm 22:1). But King David did not take his suffering negatively. After having suffered so much and overcoming, he testified, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees” (Psalm 119:71).

Sufferings are not meant to stay forever; they are only for a moment. They are also not meant to destroy, but to bring about God’s best in us, if we have the right attitude. In fact, there are many hidden blessings in suffering. Therefore, the apostle Peter said, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” (1 Peter 5:10). From what the apostle Peter had said, there are four blessings that God has in store for those who have overcome their suffering.

God will restore them. Most suffering is meant to test our faith, and when we are able to overcome and get past it, God will graciously restore us. But time and again, God proved to be more than a restorer of what we lost on a one-on-one basis. He will bless us with even more than what we lost. In the case of Job, God not only restored his wealth but gave him more. We are told, “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10). The Lord also promised double blessings to those who are suffering yet have put their hope in the Lord. He said, “Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you” (Zech. 9:12).

God will strengthen them. Having been weakened by their suffering, the Lord promised that he will once again strengthen them. The Lord said, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak (Isa. 40:28-29). While we have overcome our trials, the devil will continue to test us. But the good news is that “the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one” (2 Thess. 3:3).

God will cause them to be firm. Regardless of what else may come next, they will be unyielding and shall put their trust in the Lord. Their faith will be firmly established in the Lord. King David said, “If the Lord delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand” (Psalm 37:23-24). When we are being tested, it is worth waiting on the Lord rather than trying to slug it out ourselves. His deliverance brings firmness where we finally stand. Again, King David said, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40:2). 

God will cause them to be steadfast. Having been delivered from their suffering, they can only look forward to better days as they continue to be steadfast in their faith. “Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord's work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). If we want to be blessed in the end, it is up to us to respond in faith for everything that will come our way. We might not see the blessing coming now, but soon we will. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).