I’m in a series in our church that we’re calling No Life for Sissies. It’s about the Christian life. If you live the Christian life the way the New Testament lays it out for us, you’ll find that it’s not easy – in fact it’s a hard life.
Which brings me to this – if you’re a Christian and you find that the Christian life is easy, you’re probably not doing it right.
Do it right and you’ll find out that it’s hard. No all of the time, but much of the time.
Several weeks ago I spoke on It’s Not Easy to Suffer.
As Christians, God has called us to a life of suffering. Suffering for your faith (1 Peter 3:14), suffering for others (2 Corinthians 1:3-7), suffering for the name of Christ (1 Peter 4:12-16).
When you suffer your response is what matters.
So how should we respond to suffering?
Since there are different types of suffering there are also different ways to respond. But there are some general responses that will apply to all types of suffering. Here are three things that you can do to turn your suffering from a negative into a spiritual positive in your life.
Try to understand what God is doing in your suffering.
We believe that nothing happens to us by accident. That God has a plan and a purpose for everything that takes place in our lives. That means that when you go through times of suffering, God is working. He has a purpose for your suffering.
And while you may not be able to definitively determine His purpose, it’s helpful to try and understand to the extent that you can.
Spend time in the Word. Spend time in prayer. Look for answers. Ask God to reveal some spiritual insight to you that will help you understand His divine actions.
Even if you never come to a conclusive answer, the effort will be beneficial.
Let your suffering move you closer to God.
It’s true that everything in life will either move you closer to God or farther from Him. And in the mystery of the Divine/Human cooperative, you get to decide which will be true in your moment of suffering.
Allow your suffering to move you closer to God. Closer in fellowship with Him. Closer in worship. Closer in prayer. Closer in dependence. Closer in trust. Closer in love.
View your time of suffering as a holy place.
We don’t normally think of suffering as a place of holiness – but it can be. It can become that place where you grow in the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading, meditation, prayer, silence, solitude, and learning.
Most likely your place of suffering will either become a place of holiness or it will become a place of carnality. It will either be a place that feeds your soul or a place that feeds your flesh.
In our humanness our natural inclination is to allow our sufferings to become times of unholiness. Fight against it – make it a holy place.
Suffering, for whatever reason, is never easy. But it can be beneficial. Don’t waste periods of suffering. Allow them to be times of spiritual growth in your life.
Stay in the Word