The Power of Suffering

by Kassi Evans

 

“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.  Instead, be very glad – for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have a wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)

As followers of Jesus Christ, His glory is our inheritance.  Without it, we are a church lacking its treasure. But in the same way we can’t have gold or silver without fire; we can’t partake of God’s glory without walking through suffering. Throughout the Bible, history reveals the power of suffering for the glory of God to be revealed.  

Look at the heroes of our faith for instance– David had to hide in the caves for years just to survive from King Saul’s wrath.  Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers and then later sentenced to prison for a crime that he didn’t even commit.  Joshua and Caleb had to wait 40 years in the desert before entering the Promised Land because of the unbelief of their nation.  Sarah was barren until she was in her 90’s.  Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were tossed into the fire.  Moses was mocked and ridiculed by the very people he was helping set free… With every example you see listed here, their suffering did not just make for a good story, but it was in those seasons of hardship that their character was made ready for what was to come. 

There is POWER found through the suffering, whether it comes through circumstances around us or having to walk out personal discipline.  As Christians, it is our ability to endure suffering and come out the other side stronger that sets us apart.  It is the hope of glory that stirs within us and gives us purpose.   

Unfortunately, I see many people trying to avoid the fire of God’s discipline; creating a culture of survival that says, “What can I get away with?” instead of, “What can I conquer for His Kingdom?” Truth is, if we’re not overcoming something and moving forward, then what exactly is it that we are doing?  Christianity is only looked upon as boring when the people remain stagnant.  When Jesus said, “Come follow me”, He never once promised it would be easy.  He did, however, promise the FULLNESS of life.   

To truly follow Jesus is to take on the life of an overcomer.  Filled with passion, He leads us into the most epic adventure we could ever imagine! It says in His Word that signs, wonders and miracles will follow us all the days of our lives! 

My question for you is: Are you an overcomer or are you merely a survivor?

Survivors avoid suffering as much as they possibly can whereas overcomers face it head on.  Although it may be painful, overcomers are not afraid of it, for they know that God will bring them through it and that His glory will be made known to all that witness.  They know that whatever they conquer is beyond themselves, but that they are paving a new way for many, revealing possibilities where it seemed so impossible.  An overcomer is not one that just makes it into heaven, but is one that brings heaven down to earth. 

All of this is made possible by knowing Christ’s heart for us and then in return knowing who we are in Him.  He doesn’t call us to suffer only to leave us in our own despair. Instead, He invites us to be courageous and walk with Him through suffering so that He may lead us into life abundantly.  

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,  “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

So whatever happened to the heroes of our faith?  David became king over all of Israel.  Joseph became second in command over all of Egypt and was reconciled with his family.  After faithfully waiting, Joshua and Caleb were the ONLY ONES of their generation allowed to enter the Promised Land.  Sarah gave birth to a son that was the spearhead of an entire nation unto God.  Daniel survived the lion’s den without receiving a single wound and went on to prosper. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire not even smelling of smoke - the only things burned were the ropes that bound them!  Moses was able to bring an entire nation of slaves into freedom and was known, by them, as a friend of God! 

It is the journey that reveals His purpose for our lives…  The greatest adventures are laced with suffering and full of His glory. 

Are you willing to trust Him through the suffering and into the glory?