Doming: Amen. I would like to know more about suffering, If anyone can elaborate on this I would appreciate it. Thanks.
EMA: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous…” says Psalm 34:19, 1st part. So why bother being one?
The assurance assuages the apprehension – “But the LORD delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19, 2nd part).
When a person positively responds to God’s call he will be swimming against the tide. He will stop doing those things his previous way of life characterizes. Family and associates would notice the sudden change in a new convert’s thinking, words and actions. Those who miss the convert’s company when he stops going with them would even speak evil of him.
1 Peter 4:4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.
When a Christian’s belief is tested, he suffers. But he should hold on to his new ground and not be ashamed.
1 Peter 4:16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
And a Christian should not suffer as a law breaker.
1 Peter 4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.
A Christian’s suffering or tribulation is a necessary ingredient to develop perseverance.
Romans 5:3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
Since the Christian’s sufferings brought about by various trials produce patience, he is to count it all joy knowing that these are just but the testing of his faith.
James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
genetophile: Regarding this topic, I admire Job.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.”
EMA: I agree it is difficult to cite a mere man’s suffering more than Job experienced.
While Job lost his possessions, his children died, and have painful boils all over his body, his nagging wife aggravated his misery.
Job 3:9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
A Christian’s suffering is not that of being a law breaker
1 Peter 4:14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
The Christian afflictions or sufferings make perfect
Every person suffers at one time or other. A Christian is not to think it strange he still suffers even after he has been granted favor by God.
1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;
The Christian sufferings lead to perfection. Even Christ had to suffer to be perfect.
Hebrews 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
When a person becomes the only Christian in a family, afflictions could be relatives caused
Contrary to the belief of many, Jesus did not come as the “Prince of Peace”. That would be when he returns.
When a person begins to follow Jesus’ teachings, the ways and beliefs of the unconverted members of his family will clash with his. Division ensues.
Christ’s teachings are likened to a sword which cuts and brings family discord.
Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’
The worthy Christian knows his preference.
Matthew 10:37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
Suffering in silence and not debate with the unconverted spouse might “save” the spouse
When a believer is married to one who is not, there is less room to avoid spousal quarrels. Since the believer is to hold his patience and not fight back in words or in actions, he or she suffers mental violence.
The believer is not to separate from the unbeliever spouse to be relieved of his or her suffering unless the unbeliever spouse abandons the household.
1 Corinthians 7:12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases.
The believer continues to uphold God’s rules to attain and maintain peace in the family despite living and “sleeping with the enemy”. The believer’s good attitude might call the attention of the offending spouse and make him or her open when God decides to make the call.
1 Corinthians 7:15…But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?
The afflictions of the righteous could even call the unrighteous’ attention to God
To tread the way of life contrary to that of the majority and the ruling class is a challenge and a sure recipe for persecutions which cause afflictions to the believer.
When Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, were caught defying king Nebuchadnezzar’s edict for all the people to “fall down and worship” the gold image at the time they “hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music”, they were sentenced to “be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace”.
To hear such a sentence certainly would cause an ordinary man great mental torture up to the moment of the actual execution. Even with the great faith Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego had that God would save them, they also entertained the possibility that God will allow the consummation of the execution.
Daniel 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
By choosing to submit to the expected suffering rather than be disloyal to God, God’s intervention saving Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego from the fiery furnace called Nebuchadnezzar’s attention to, not necessarily belief to eventually worship, God.
Daniel 3:23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?”
They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”
25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here.” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire. 27 And the satraps, administrators, governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.
28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! 29 Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.”
The sufferings of a Christian is akin to the “suffering” of clay which is fashioned into an earthen vessel
What a potter does to a raw lump of clay to transform it into a masterpiece God does to a Christian in the spiritual sense.
Isaiah 64:8 But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.
As the earthen vessel becomes a masterpiece, so will the finished product man “shine Like the brightness of the firmament”.
Daniel 12:3 Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever.