There is no technique that can take the hurt out of pain. The task of faith is not to remove our pain, but to give us the strength to bear it—only in weakness can we find God’s sufficiency revealed (2Co 2:16, 2Co 3:5, 2Co 12:9-10). Suffering is a part of God’s plan for His children. Faith refined by fire makes Jesus Christ real to us. and until He is real to us. we cannot make Him real to anyone else. So, if we want to grow In the spiritual life, we will suffer.

There is a rough parallel between the five stages of spiritual growth (see Cross to the Crown) and five stages of suffering outlined in 1 Peter.

1. Trial and temptation (1Pe 1:6-7). The first tests we have to master as baby believers are usually the tests of everyday trial and temptation. The question is how well can we face the mundane aggravations, the little things that go wrong, the daily irritations that are a natural result of living in the world and dealing with people. Any time we face a trial, we also face a temptation—to respond with our emotions or human reason, to fall back on human supply, to handle what is before us with anything but faith.

2. Undeserved suffering (1Pe 2:19). The next test, faced at some point by every adolescent believer, is of how well we can stand up to undeserved suffering. Can we endure maligning, slander, injustice, being treated wrongfully—and do it silently, without retaliation or vindictiveness, without giving in to mental attitude sins? In marriage, in friendships, in work relationships we will be tested in this area over and over and over again. When someone less qualified gets the promotion that we deserve, when we get blame for something we did not do, when our reputation is compromised by someone else’s lies, will we defend ourselves or will we let God defend us?

3. Suffering for the sake of righteousness (1Pe 3:14-15). Suffering for what we have not done is one thing, but suffering for the good we have done is quite another. In suffering for the sake of righteousness we may pour our heart and soul into a ministry and then be accused of false motivation. We may give ourselves to a Sunday school class for years and then because there is jealousy and resentment be cut from the staff. This kind of suffering will eventually come to the mature believer whose service is starting to have an impact on his world. The question is this: Can we stay focused on Jesus Christ or will we let our pain make us bitter?

4. Sharing Christ’s sufferings (1Pe 4:12-13). Why did Christ suffer? He suffered to bring us to God; He sacrificed Himself so we could have life. Sharing the suffering of Jesus Christ means that we have moved into an effective ministry where we are constantly making sacrifices and are constantly receiving attack and opposition because we are fulfilling the continuing cause of Christ—evangelizing the lost and edifying believers through encouragement and Bible teaching. Because Satan is the god of this world, the prince of the power of darkness, he is going to utilize every force at his command to stop believers from promoting Jesus Christ. He does not care if we promote ourselves; but he hates it when we make Christ the issue, when the only thing that matters to us is that when people look at us they see Jesus Christ and are motivated to grow in the grace and knowledge of Him. When this starts to happen, Satan starts to feel threatened. When we get into the area of sharing the suffering of Jesus Christ, we become heroes of faith.

5. Personal Satanic attack (1Pe 5:8). If we advance far enough—and only a handful in history have—there will come a time when we wilt face personal Satanic attack. While we realize that Satan attacks all believers and tries to frustrate their growth and the plan of God in their lives, we also know that he is not omnipresent Satan can only be in one place at a time. He has plenty of demons to assign to ordinary believers, but he saves some jobs for himself. When he walks about as a roaring lion seeking someone to devour, what kind of people does he seek out? People like Job. people like Peter, like Paul, People who begin to have personal historical impact inevitably come under Satanic attack. What happens when they do? It is not a pretty sight Job starts feeling sorry for himself under the attack of his friends; Peter denies his Lord. When the believer finds himself being sifted by Satan, he will not look too great to the world, but what the world thinks will not matter because his champion is God.


This material was originally a highlighted topic in "The Basics".

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