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Two Types of Suffering

Suffering may not sound like something you would want to include in your daily life. Nonetheless, suffering happens to everyone in one form or another. The key to understanding suffering is knowing that there are reasons for it. Let's find out why we suffer and what we are suffering for.


Note: I'm not referring to physical suffering like sickness or disease. The suffering I'm referring to is in the mind and soul.


Question

What are the two ways to suffer?


Answer

There is suffering for doing the good of the kingdom of God, which is righteousness, and suffering for doing evil, which comes from sin and death and is the work of the devil.


Explanation

Jesus taught that you are blessed if you are persecuted and suffer for the name of the Lord and His righteousness.


Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Jesus taught His disciples how to have the right mindset for preaching the gospel and how it provokes persecution toward those who do it righteously. 


If when you do good and suffer for it, you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.

The apostle Peter was one of Jesus' chief disciples who learned how to suffer for the kingdom of God and how to die for it. His writings reveal much about suffering. In his first epistle, he gives a masterclass on the two ways to suffer. Peter's focus on suffering was to teach us that suffering, for Christ's sake, is an opportunity to glorify God and reveal His glory in our suffering. He learned that from Jesus' example and applied it to his own life.


But Peter didn't just keep suffering one-sided. He also wanted to teach God's people that there is another kind of suffering that is caused by doing evil. When sin and death are present, evil works also provoke persecution, leading to suffering.


1 Peter 4:13-16 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 

As a believer in Jesus it is easy to think that all your suffering is caused by the devil coming after you because you are a saint of God. But is that true? Some of your suffering may actually be because of your mishandling of the words of God. The apostle Paul illustrates that it is possible to speak the word without love and cause it to fail. (1 Corinthians 13)


So, what am I after in this teaching? I ask you to examine why you are suffering and what you are suffering for. If you stand righteous before the Lord and do the works of God because He sent you to do them, then you will be persecuted by evil and suffer in Christ's stead. But if you take it upon yourself to go and strive with evil without God sending you, you should expect the devil to persecute you and remind you that when you walk in the lust of the flesh, he has permission to be there to cause your suffering.


For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.

What to do

Jesus taught us the right way to suffer. If you read Peter's writings on suffering, you will find a clear example of how Jesus handled suffering. Use His example, and you will glory in your suffering for Christ. 


1 Peter 2:21-23 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps.

  • He committed no sin.

  • There was no deceit found in His mouth.

  • When he was reviled, He did not revile in return.

  • When he suffered, He did not threaten.

  • He continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly.


1 Peter 4:1-2 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. 


Scripture references

Matthew 5:1-12; 1 Corinthians 13; 1 Peter 1:10-12; 2:17-25; 3:8-22; 4:12-19; 5:1-11

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