TOPIC:“There's a Christian Way to Face 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)
Suffering and sickness are not pleasant sounding words to the human ear. The sickness, physical pain, disease and death which the human body is called upon to endure is certainly most unpleasant and uncomfortable.
And yet, the Apostle Paul would be the first to admit that the Christian is not exempt from the various illnesses of life. The believer must expect trials and troubles, pain and persecution, sorrow and suffering. It was Paul who declared: “We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22). This ceaseless longing of suffering for Christ, with Christ, or just being willing to accept God's will in this matter, 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. We will find out together the Christian way to face suffering. Harold J Ockenga, great preacher of the past, called Paul “the man who smiled through pain.”
Consider, first of all, the MAGNITUDE of suffering. Paul writes: “For unto you” (v. 29). Suffering to Paul is not so much a plural thing, but a personal thing. No matter how much the Christian Church is called upon to suffer, 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 Christ's sake for Christ's glory.
Now this is where the thinking of many people has gone off the track. The Bible does not deny the reality of sickness and Christ does not deny the reality of suffering, but both the Bible and Christ clearly teach that they exist and are a part of life. Sickness then is not an illusion of the mind or a figment of the imagination. It is a reality that must not be denied.
Most of . . .