The Ministry of Suffering

Posted By: Dieuner Joseph | Monday, April 08, 2019

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

A good friend of mine asked me yesterday why is it necessary for believers to suffer for them to grow personally and spiritually. That is precisely the focus of the book of Job. It is a question that believers have been asking since Jesus ascended to heaven. In Christian theology, this is called “Theodicy.”

Job was utterly frustrated and perplexed by this very question. In the end, he accused God of being unfair and unjust. He could not comprehend the purpose of his suffering and struggled with the idea that the ungodly do not seem to suffer as much as the righteous.

In today’s text, Paul stresses the fact that believers glory in their sufferings, because they know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. That’s ultimately the answer for believers who want to know why they have to suffer to grow personally and spiritually. Every believer has the ministry of suffering because the Lord wants to reshape us into the image of Christ.

We suffer because we are developing a Christ-like character. And since we live in a sinful world with a corrupt body, we are driven to satisfy our desires. When those desires are not fulfilled, we lament our condition and become frustrated with God and with life.

Paul said the believers should rejoice in their suffering. As difficult as this may sound, it is sound teaching. God uses suffering to teach us to depend on him. We grow through our suffering because suffering stretches our faith and strengthens our Christian character. Where there is no suffering, there is no need for God. Thus we make an idol of ourselves and show contempt for God.

God does not need suffering to grow us into spiritual maturity. Suffering is a natural part of the human condition. He uses the suffering that is inevitable to teach eternal lessons. The right question, therefore, is not why we suffer. Rather, it is how do we suffer without losing our faith in God?

Believers suffer because they are doing the will of God and are living for Christ. In 1 Peter 4:12-13, we are told, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange was happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”

The suffering of the believer is always redemptive. God does not allow the believer to suffer alone. Our suffering is related to our God-given purpose and is part of our mission as disciples of Jesus Christ. Some of the strongest and most faithful Christians I know are those who have suffered the most. The cost of Christian discipleship is suffering, even unto death. Therefore, we rejoice in our suffering because of the eternal reward that is promised to us.

Prayer- Blessed Lord, please give us the strength to endure and the courage to rejoice in our suffering.

About The Author

Rev. Dieuner Joseph is a dynamic leader, disciple Maker, Writer, Talk Show host, and Spiritual counselor. Reverend Joseph is the founder of the Imani Temple Baptist Church and the Disciple Maker Ministry. He is a skilled Bible teacher who carefully and responsibly exegete the Scriptures to make them relevant to today’s readers. Through his Blog and weekly Christian magazine- The Wednesday Word- he seeks to provide Bible based instructions for dealing with the socio-political issues of today.

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