Trials and Persecution 1: The Inevitability of Suffering

There seems to be a trend emerging in our churches. There is a lesson that is being taught that goes like this - all the pleasures of this world can never satisfy you, and that the only way to prosperity and contentment is through recognizing the wonderful plan of Jesus Christ in your lives.

This narrative is completely accurate, but a bit misleading. You share this lesson with anyone, they will immediately think that living for God will allow us to find prosperity and success here on this Earth, that we will never truly have another trouble in the world.

But that image is completely wrong. Indeed a careful examination of the Scriptures reveals to us quite the opposite.


Trials and Persecution 2: It's Just Not Fair

When faced with trials and suffering, our first thought is often, "Why, Lord, why would you do this? It's just not fair!"

Perhaps though we are applying the blame in the wrong place here. It would be wise for us to examine the history of suffering. Let us start at the very beginning.

In 6 days, God created the world, and all that is therein. As he created it, he saw that it was good. Indeed it was perfect - with no tears, no suffering, and no persecution. But alas, that state of blissful perfection wouldn't last.

When anyone goes through times of suffering, the thing they really want to know is why. This is the question they might shout out to God, ask their Pastor, or beg to know from all their friends. There really is no direct answer to why suffering is in this world.

Of course, we know that all suffering came as a result of Adam's sin in the garden. But this does not follow then that all suffering happens as a direct cause and effect relationship between sin and its consequences. However, it is definitely true that some suffering is a direct result of sin in our lives.

Last Thursday night, I heard an elementary-age child preach a short sermon to our church's congregation. If you can believe it, he actually presented a truth that I think many Christians desperately need to hear. As he preached on faith, he proclaimed simply,
"Does faith have a reward? Yes you can please God." 

It is not everyday that we consider the very act of pleasing God a reward in and of itself. Typically we think of pleasing the Lord as a means to an end. We consider it a prerequisite for receiving blessings in this life and the next.

Trials and Persecution 5: Surviving the Suffering

The Christian walk isn't always easy. We will have suffering and persecution within our life. This fact is guaranteed in Scripture. When we are faced with such trials, we always want to blame someone. We want to be able to take it to the man.

This is especially true when we undergo these difficulties while serving the Lord wholly, perhaps only because we are serving the Lord wholly. 

Many Christians like to point to the truths included in Romans 8:28 in a time of trial.
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

This verse is commonly used as encouragement to those suffering, that ultimately all of the persecution we have in our life will ultimately work to provide us with a happier, more fulfilled life. But this is not a proper interpretation of this verse.

In life, we are bound to experience trials. There are self-help and encouragement books galore to show us how to survive and thrive through the struggles we find in our lives. Indeed some have gone as far as to say that success happens simply when people are able to overcome those obstacles in their life that would so easily beset them.

If success truly is determined by our abilities to overcome suffering, then we ought to be able to understand all that suffering encompasses. Truly, it makes sense that there are so many books dedicated to suffering. This is just another one of those written types of presentation regarding hardship for the Christian. But I would hope that thus far I have stumbled upon a certain amount of encouraging truth.

Let us conclude our discussion of the trials and persecution that a Christian will inevitably face by examining the history of suffering throughout the Bible.

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