The Bible is a book about suffering. If anyone wants to tell you differently, they are aren’t reading the whole thing. In fact, it should be a comfort that to one of the biggest world problems the Bible has so much to say. Not only does it address the problem of suffering from sin (ours, others against us, and the overall sin condition) and provide the only solution, it addresses undue suffering. The type of suffering you don’t deserve, didn’t expect and is straight up unfair. The suffering that comes from doing good.
And the Bible has a lot to say for the Christian that suffers. I am hoping that these points would comfort the wounded heart, breath life back into the dead soul and remind us of the nature of God and his comfort:
1. We will suffer
This is unavoidable. When we follow Jesus, we will suffer. 1 Peter says,
“Do not be surprised at the fiery trail when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 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” (4:12-14).
Don’t be surprised. It’s going to happen. God’s words both created the universe and cut through bone and marrow to men’s hearts. They are so powerful, if wielded well, God’s words are assured to accomplish what they were intended to do. Whether that is to call God’s sheep to Himself, or causing shame to the unbelievers who run back into the darkness to hide from truth. There is no grey. For those who despise the name of Jesus, they will bring strife, just as they did to Jesus. Jews hated Jesus, (and the following apostles) because Jesus was taking their glory, confronting their desire to be god. Lead by Satan, murder rose up in their hearts to eliminate the source of conviction and truth. If we are also messengers of that truth, we can expect the same result: Salvation and Confrontation. Is it strange that we would be like Christ?
2. Suffering will bring Jesus’ glory just as Jesus’ suffering brought about God’s glory
Our suffering, we can be assured, brings glory to God if brought about for his name, according to his will.
“If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:14).
We can rejoice in the future glory our endurance through suffering will bring Jesus’ name. And that God’s Spirit will rest on you. The glory of God is shown through being insulted for Jesus’ name. Not solely success. That’s pretty backwards and pretty amazing.
And we can look to our “living hope”; our “imperishable inheritance” that is kept in heaven for us, to keep faith until Jesus is revealed to us and calls us home.
“To be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:3-7
3. When we suffer for God’s name, we are instructed to entrust ourselves to a faithful God
Peter says Jesus continued to entrust himself to “him who judges justly”. When faced with suffering and the cross, Jesus knew God was the Avenger & Judge of the undeserved suffering he was going to endure and saw it fit for him to suffer. He was the one who was truly just and knew what was ultimately good. Therefore, he entrusted himself to that Judge, and gave himself completely to his will.
“When he (Jesus) was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:23
“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” 1 Peter 4:19
Later in 1 Peter, we, the believers, are implored to follow in Jesus’ footstep and entrust ourselves to our “faithful Creator” as we suffer. We must entrust. I think entrusting is as much an action as a belief. We entrust – in Greek (paratithemi) meaning to place before or commit into one’s charge – our souls to a faithful God. We say in our hearts, “Even though this path might bring suffering, I will trust. I will go. You are good. You are worth it. You are enough.”
4. God is the ultimate Comforter to those who suffer
Although suffering was a part of the plan for our redemption and sanctification, it was not for us to endure alone. But he proclaims himself as our Comforter:
“You who are my Comforter in sorrow my heart is faint within me.” Jeremiah 8:18
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” 2 Cor. 1:3-5
“But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus..” 2 Cor 7:6
“I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass, that you forget the Lord your Maker,” Isa. 51:12-13a
When you suffer, no matter how you might feel, God always wants to comfort you. God is the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our afflictions. Wow. You heard that – ALL afflictions. So not only does God forgive us so that we can forgive others, he comforts us when we are suffering so we can comfort sufferers! And there is no affliction he does not want to cover with his comfort. No pain he has turned a blind eye to. No situation he deems you should endure without comfort. This is our promise. He will comfort us in them all.