Sunday, February 01, 2009

Suffering For Blessing

Suffering For Blessing

Intro.: Paul once wrote, “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. Suffering is never easy, yet it is part of life. It is part of all of our lives.

  2. For some it is physical suffering, for some it will be emotional suffering, for some it will come in the form of financial hardship.

  3. For some it will a short term problem, for others suffering is a part of their whole lives.

  4. For some it is the result of the choices they have made. For some it is the result of the abuse given by others. And for some, it is just the result of living.

  5. I don't have all the answers, but I want to look at one passage that gives us some insight into God's view of suffering.

Read: I Peter 3:13-18a


  1. Suffering is a Win-Win situation

    1. Listen to Peter, “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed.

    2. Peter begins by making it clear that harm should not be a part of the life of a believer. There is no one that should harm you if you are living the life that God calls you to.

    3. Of course, just because there is no reason to be harmed, doesn't mean it won't happen.

(Ill.) For example, there is a story told of child in India. On the Western shore of India – near the Southern tip – lies a region known as Travancore. In the middle of the 19th century the Bishop of Madras was visiting Travancore, there was introduced to him a little slave girl called “The Child Apostle.” She had won this title by the zeal with which she talked of Christ to others. Her quiet, steady persistence in this had won several converts to Christ. But she had suffered persecution too brutal to relate. When she was introduced to the Bishop, her face, neck and arms were disfigured and scarred by stripes and blows. As he looked at her, the good man’s eyes filled, and he said, “My child, how could you bear this?”

She looked up at him in surprise and said, “Don’t you like to suffer for Christ, sir?”1

    1. But it should not really surprise us – as we have said before, the only perfect man who ever lived was persecuted. Isaiah described Him as:

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like one people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him. (Is 53:3)

    1. And like Christ, when we do suffer, we end up being blessed.

    2. Seems strange – I suffer, I am blessed. But it does means I do not need to be afraid of suffering. “God is an ever present help in trouble

  1. Suffering accompanies obedience

    1. Along with helping us to see the connection between suffering and blessing, Peter also points out the connection between suffering and obedience.

    2. In the midst of Peter's instructions about suffering, he gives a series of five commands.

      1. Have no fear of them

      2. nor be troubled

      3. honor Christ the Lord as holy

      4. always being prepared to make a defense to anyone

      5. having a good conscience

    3. The commands start by reminding us that we do not need to be afraid of those who challenge us. Remember that perfect love casts out fear. We no longer need to be afraid.

    4. But from telling us not to fear, he refocuses our attention on Christ the Lord.

(Ill.) A little over 400 years ago scholars believed that the universe centered around the earth. It was Copernicus that realized that the science of a earth centered universe did not explain all the events that he saw in the sky – the planets, the sun, the stars, did not behave as they should if the earth was the center of the universe. He set about to explain what he saw and came to the conclusion that the known solar system rotated around the sun. But that was considered a heresy and he could not publish his findings. It would be another 100 years before his findings would be released by Galileo and finally accepted as good science. The world thought that the universe centered around the earth. And even now science teaches that our solar system circles the sun. But they miss the truth – at the center of it all is not the earth, is not the sun, but is the God Himself. Peter reminds us that rather than focusing our attention on so many little things – we must focus our attention on Jesus.

    1. Finally, Peter gives instructions about how we are to live – be ready to give a defense and live with a good conscience.

(Ill.) I was always surprised when a number of years ago a friend who knew me only as a computer science instructor remarked that he was surprised on how open I was with my faith. You see, I thought that was the way every believer lived their lives – I mean if Christ is the most important thing in their lives, we will be talking about Him. We will be ready to give a defense of our faith.

    1. And living our lives with a clear conscience is one of the best ways we can be a witness for our faith.

Conclusion: Suffering is part of life.

  1. There is no reason we should suffer as believers.

  2. But when we do, we know that we will be blessed.

  3. And then we saw that suffering will be accompanied by obedience.

  4. Suffering may be part of life, but our faith in Christ prepares us to face it.


1Choice Gleanings quoted in Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

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