Rejoicing in Your Suffering
Nobody likes suffering. I can’t think of anyone who would blatantly go out in public and say, “I like suffering.” Suffering for most people has a negative connotation, and this is to go without saying.
Going through periods of trials and tribulations is painful. If I were to tell you that you were going to lose all your children and livestock and wealth, you’d probably think that would be pretty awful. But, if you’ve ever read the book of Job, you can read exactly what he went through.
Job was said to be one of the wealthiest humans of his time, which is believed to be around the time of Abraham. And God allowed Satan to test his faith in Him. This resulted in Job losing pretty much everything except his wife and friends.
Job responded in the way most people do, “Why me?” Job is said to have been a righteous man, but as you’ll read, it took this humbling test from God to humble Job’s heart to understand how unrighteous he was compared to God. And to learn further the proper reaction he should have had towards the almighty.
However, as Christians, we’re not supposed to act or react like most people; we’re supposed to act like one person: Jesus.
In 1 Peter 4: 12-13, Peter says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial 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.”
Job was a good person, in our eyes. He gave lots of money to the poor, and he wasn’t a lover of the world. However, he loved God with all his heart, and God was very pleased with him.
However, Job also attracted someone else’s attention, the devil. The devil went to the Almighty and explained that Job was only in love with God because of the many blessings that he gave. So, God saw it fit to test Job.
In return, he let the devil have his way to see what Job would do. And we find that Job didn’t curse the name of God as Satan said he would, but he didn’t respond in the way to his situation as he should have either. So Peter tells us the exact way we should respond when we go about our suffering.
When we go through trials and tribulations, we should not be surprised by them. When you look at Job’s story, you can see that he was a man of God. Being a man of God in a world of the devil will attract unwanted attention.
If you are a Christian, having already put your faith in God and acting upon your salvation, you will not go unnoticed. William MacDonald says, “It is especially true that those who take a forthright stand for Christ become the object of savage attack. Satan doesn’t waste his ammunition on nominal Christians. He turns his big guns on those who are storming the gates of Hades.”
When we accept Christ into our hearts, we realize that we are going through a process of purification daily. Peter uses the description of a refiner’s fire to describe this process. When you refine precious metals, they need to go through an intense heating process to melt down the ore, take out all the impurities, and finally reshape it into what it’s meant to be.
Peter speaks, though, of the refining of our soul. As Christians, we are called to be out of the ordinary. This requires us to be different from the people that don’t believe in Christ.
So Peter explains to us not to be surprised when we receive trials because Christ suffered, and then we will suffer. Some would go as far as to say that if you’re not receiving trials and tribulations, then you need to be surprised. But when you do receive these trials, rejoice in your suffering.
If you’ve read the book of Job, you’ll figure out that most of the book is a dialogue about Job wondering why God let all of this happen to Him. And when you get to the end, God responds with the why that Job didn’t expect.
God explains to Job who He is. The all-powerful, all-knowing, infinite creator of all things. This revelation of God to Job changed the way he thought about the suffering he was going through. He realized that suffering is not meaningless; it’s to help us be more like our creator.
As Christians who are the called-out ones of God, we need to learn how to be like Him. God will bring trials and tribulations into our lives because he wants us to be more like him. Peter says to rejoice in your suffering because God sees you fit to be more like him. Rejoice in your suffering because you get to suffer as Christ, the perfecter of our faith, suffered.
Today if you’re going through hardship, remember that it’s not meaningless. Know that there is a purpose behind the test. God wants you to be more like him. Sometimes it requires him to turn up the heat because he needs to get the impurities out.
Today, if you think God has turned up the heat too high or left me in the fire. I can assure you that he hasn’t. God won’t test you more than you can handle, and he is right there with you along the way. So, if you’re suffering, rejoice in knowing that Jesus suffered in the ways you do. Rejoice in also knowing that you suffer because the creator of the universe sees you fit to become more like him. Are you out of the ordinary? Are you rejoicing in your suffering today?