What is suffering?
Suffering is a privilege. We have been given the privilege not only of trusting him but also of suffering for him. (Philippians 1:29) 29- For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him.
Suffering is a means of learning. Jesus tells us, wear my yoke—for it fits perfectly—and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I give you only light burdens. (Mathew 11:29-30) 29-Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30-For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Jesus)
Suffering is a test of our faith. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though the going is rough for a while down here. These trials are only to test our faith, to see whether or not it is strong and pure. (1 Peter 1:6-7) 6-In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials, 7-These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Why do we experience suffering?
It makes us partners with Christ in suffering. Don’t be bewildered or surprised when you go through the fiery trials ahead. Instead, be really glad –because these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering. (1 Peter 4:12-13) 12-Dear friends do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13-But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
If we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering. Since we are his children, we will share his treasures—for all God gives to his Son Jesus is now ours too. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. (Romans 8:17) 17-Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
It develops our strength and character. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady. (Romans 5:3-4) 3-Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4-perseverance, character; and character, hope.
How does God want us to handle suffering?
He wants us to have a good attitude. Since Christ suffered and underwent pain, you must have the same attitude he did; you must be ready to suffer, too. When your body suffers, sin loses its power, and you won’t spend your life chasing after evil desires, but will be anxious to do the will of God. (1Peter 4:1-2) 1- Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. 2- As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
He wants us to trust Christ to help us. Since he himself has now been through suffering and temptation, he knows what it is like when we suffer and are tempted, and he is wonderfully able to help us. (Hebrews 2:18) 18-Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
He wants us to follow Christ example. You get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong; but if you do right and suffer for it, and are patient beneath the blows, God is well pleased. This suffering is all part of the work God has given you. Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:20-21) 20-But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and endure it, this is commendable before God. 21-To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow his steps.