Friday, January 4, 2013

Christian Suffering

How often have we heard, "If you're comfortable, then you must not be where God wants you to be", or "I feel so content with my life right now, something bad must be on the way." OK, maybe we haven't heard those exact statements, but we understand the sentiment. But, is that true? If we believe those statements or the philosophy behind them, we would have to agree that struggle and hardship IS the normative Christian experience. Yes, the daily struggle with sin is very real. Yes, pain and suffering (even for the Christian) is very real, but is that the standard that Jesus establishes as the normal life for His children? NO! In fact, Jesus makes plain just the opposite, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27) He also mentions something about the internal mechanism that enables the Christian to live fully peaceful and wholly content lives, "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my JOY may be in you and that your JOY may be complete." (John 15:10-11) The Apostle Paul backs that up with, 'I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Phil. 4:12-13) When we look at these few words from the Bible, we see that for a Christian peace AND contentment is a way of living, not a goal to be obtained. We can rest assured that Jesus just might want us to live happy, peaceful, content and fulfilled lives because of our faith in Him. Let's all reject the fatalistic notion that living the Christian life is nothing more than a painful struggle to do good and embrace the truth that we are meant to live content. Happy New Year everybody! Comments are very much welcomed!

  • Amber  Asked - This is something I have been thinking of a lot lately. How much does our Christian life require suffering? How much do I trust that God is good?

     Amber! You ask very good questions. The Christian suffers only as much as humanity in its current situation suffers. Even though we have faith in the Lord Jesus, we are still on the same broken earth as every other human being. When Adam committed sin, all humanity and even the earth itself, began to suffer. It only follows then that every human being will suffer due to the brokenness of man and his environment. I look at it this way, even Christians catch a cold or the flu, get hit by someone else's car, walk off the curb and break their leg and even develop cancer. Just because we're Christians doesn't mean we suffer anymore or any less than the general human population. On the other hand, we know that the world hates the Light of Jesus and that we as Christians represent that Light. We also know that evil wants nothing more than to tear down every Christian simply to diminish the Light. So, on that level, Christians do suffer more than the general human population. But, if we feel we are being persecuted because of our relationship with Christ, then we will be fully content because we will know that we are right where Jesus wants us to be. One more thing on Christian persecution, I truly believe that God calls some Christians to martyrdom. God has used many Christian men and women to advance His Kingdom by allowing them to be unfairly treated by other human beings. History is full of case after case of people being beaten, tortured and even killed simply because of their faith in Jesus. That kind of suffering is a very specific calling that most Christians will never experience. If you have read any of their stories, you would see that in every case, these people endured to the very end with Supernatural, God-given, Unshakable Faith. I truly believe that Jesus will fully bless everyone who believes in His name with peace and contentment over every situation!