Throughout all of history, suffering has been the stumbling block of humanity. Different peoples and cultures have tried to define the act of suffering but it remains a problem for philosophers and a harsh test of faith. It is not natural to see any profit in suffering. Mankind staggers over it, considering it a tragedy, an interruption to progress, and ultimately fate to be avoided. According to the Bible, it is the will of God that believers should suffer. This, however, is not a popular teaching. We hate suffering and try to avoid it. The Bible says that all who live godly lives in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3). There, however, is much confusion on the definition of suffering. For example, suffering is not a sign of holiness nor a way of subduing the physical body. When possible, suffering and persecution is actually to be avoided. In the Bible, Jesus avoided suffering unless it meant disobeying his Father’s will. God uses trials to get our attention and to accomplish His will in our life in a way that would never have occurred without the trial. Going through these trials forces us to trust in God in rather than ourselves and our resources.
To some, the reason why we suffer is a mystery but God makes it clear through His Word why we may suffer. First and foremost we suffer because we live in a fallen world where sin is in the hearts of everyone. Sometimes we suffer because of our own foolishness. We reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7-9). God brings justice to the evil and righteous alike. We also suffer because it is God’s discipline. “The Lord trains those he loves. He punishes everyone he accepts as a son” (Hebrews12:16). We may suffer persecution because of our faith especially when we take a stand on biblical issues. We suffer for righteousness sake (2 Tim. 3:12). Jesus said that the world hated Him and if it hated Him, it will hate all Christians as well. Suffering for our faith actually broadens...