Not many of us have ever had to sacrifice our lives or limbs for the sake of the gospel. Perhaps we never will. However, all suffering as a Christian can be considered “Christian Suffering.”
John Piper writes:
Paul Brand, the missionary surgeon to India wrote in his book: Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants. “I have come to see that pain and pleasure come to us not as opposites but as Siamese twins, strangely joined and intertwined. Nearly all my memories of acute happiness, in fact, involve some element of pain or struggle” (Christianity Today, Jan. 10, 1994, p. 21). I have never heard anyone say, “The deepest and rarest and most satisfying joys of my life have come in times of extended ease and earthly comfort.” Nobody says that. It isn’t true. What’s true is what Samuel Rutherford said when he was put in the cellars of affliction: “The Great King keeps his wine there”—not in the courtyard where the sun shines. What’s true is what Charles Spurgeon said: “They who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls.” Read rest of sermon here.
When it comes to suffering, some of us know a little more about it than others, but it is something that every Christian will and must endure. “Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants.” I don’t like thinking about it that way. I don’t like thinking about Jesus as a God who gladly allows (and even causes) suffering in the lives of his children. But joyously enduring suffering is part of worshiping the real Jesus. While others may stick their heads in the worldly, suicidal sands of comfort and ease, let us gladly endure whatever comes our way from the hand of our gracious God (whether it is a headache or a be-heading, a low paycheck or a loss of possessions, a dying to oneself or dying at the hand of another).
1 Peter 4:12-19 encourages us:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God. For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
So, in other words, don’t be surprised-just worship.
Suffering is suffering. Suffering joyously is worship.
Let us glorify God in our suffering, all of it.