TOPIC:“The Man Who Smiled Through Suffering”
by Rev. Dr. Reg Dunlap
“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (1:29)
Harold J. Ockenga, famous minister of Park Street Church in Boston, once called Paul, "The Man Who Smiled Through Pain." Paul graciously accepted the pain that came into his life. But suffering and sickness are not pleasant sounding words to the human ear. The sickness, physical pain, disease and death which the Christian is called upon to endure is certainly most unpleasant and uncomfortable. And yet, the Apostle Paul would be the first to admit that the believer is not exempt from the various illnesses of life. The believer must expect trials and troubles, pain and persecution, sorrow and suffering throughout their lives.
It was Paul who declared in Acts chapter 14 verse 22: “We must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God.” The New International Version has it: "We must go through many hardships to enter into the Kingdom of God." No one experienced this more than the Apostle Paul. This ceaseless longing of suffering for Christ, with Christ, or just being willing to accept God's will in this area of human suffering, is beautifully stated by Paul to the Corinthians: “Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong” (II Corinthians 12:9, 10).
Let us now come to grips with the words of the text, and other Bible verses throughout the Word of God, and think upon what Paul and others have to say about this matter of suffering and sickness for the Christian.
Consider, first of all, the magnitude of suffering. Paul writes in verse 29: “For unto you.” Suffering to Paul is universal. No one is exempt. Paul wants each of us to know that the day will come, as it came to him, and perhaps has already come to you, when we individually must be willing to suffer for . . .