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Purposeful Suffering

1 Peter 3:17-18
For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. (NIVUK)

Born-again Christians will sometimes get into trouble for speaking about Jesus (Acts 4:18-20).  The nature of sin is that it resists the Lordship of Christ.  Because of that, any suggestion that He should be worshipped, trusted, loved and served may meet a hostile response.  When this happens to you, remember that it is not a personal attack even though it may seem to be; it is against Him (John 15:18-21).  However, Jesus did experience this personally, and in a very violent way, so that He might bring you into a right relationship with God (see www.crosscheck.org.uk to find out more).
The suffering of Christ was not only the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2), but also a life pattern for all who are called to continue to resist the evil in the world, the flesh and the devil (1 Peter 2:21).   But Christians who refuse to go along with the world’s ‘normality’ will be considered strange by the people who allow evil to rule their lives (1 Peter 4:4).  It will bring us some trouble - although our difficulties are small compared with Christ's agonies - but will also be rewarded in glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).

No suffering is good or virtuous in itself, but God often uses it to bring good (Genesis 50:20).  But Peter says that the best suffering is the trouble which comes when it is totally undeserved, when no wrong has been done.  That was the model of Christ’s suffering (1 Peter 3:18).  It is also the pattern of allowed experience through which our faith is matured (James 1:2-4) and our relationship with Jesus is developed (1 Peter 1:3-7).
Hebrews 10:35-36 says, "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."   So, although we often pray for easy relationships at work and home, when God allows difficulties do not despair or give up.  If you suffer for doing right, don't do what is wrong to escape the problems.  The workplace or community may be uncomfortable for the believer, but God is your protector for eternity.  Therefore, keep on doing and saying what is right, for His glory's sake; and for the blessing of those who are watching to see if Christ's power is in your life, and for your future reward.

Heavenly Father. Thank You for the example of the Lord Jesus who suffered the hatred of people against Him, so that I should not lose heart. Forgive me when I become so discouraged that I forget why You have placed me in my difficult circumstance. Help me to keep on trusting You to win the lost, as You use my words and active witness. When I feel like giving up, may I know Your power to help me to endure. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams