There are several reasons why Christians suffer, in spite of being with the Lord. But we can identify them into 3 major categories; God’s will, our sin, and the enemy’s attack.
Our suffering can be God’s will to make us a better Christian. We also suffer from the consequences of our own sin. Although we can count on God’s protection, if we didn’t follow His commandments, He will let us suffer the consequences of our sin. We also suffer because of the enemy which is the devil. Although the devil can’t act without the consent of God, there are sufferings in our life that is created by the enemy.
Let us go deeper to discover why Christians suffer.
Christians suffer so he can learn to help others.
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
God lets us suffer so we can be a blessing to those who also suffer. We can use our experiences to give comfort and solution to other’s problems. Our experience also makes us relate to other people who are going through suffering. Sometimes, people who suffer are not seeking for solution and advice. They only need ears and sympathy to comfort them.
Our experience can also be a testimony to others how the Lord helped us to survive. It will be a great display of God’s power and sympathy and this will encourage people who are going through suffering.
Christian suffer so he will not trust in himself
For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead. – 2 Corinthians 1:8-9
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6
Suffering is the best moment to recall God. Do you have a moment that your life was being in danger? Or you suffer great physical and emotional pain? These are the times when you call to God. People usually remember God only when they’re in trouble, danger, pain, and suffering. When you call Him, it is a display of total dependence. You totally submit on His power. You admit that there’s nothing you can do to save yourself.
The stories of Joseph the dreamer, Moses, and David are great examples of suffering and success came from God.
Christian suffers to humble him
All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers. And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. – Deuteronomy 8:1-2
Daniel 4:28-37 (Story of King Nebuchadnezzar)
The stories of the Israelites in the wilderness and King Nebuchadnezzar are great examples of suffering for humbleness. Israelites, after fleeing from Egypt with the help of Moses, travelled in the wilderness for 40 years before they reached the promised land. They could’ve reached it in less than two weeks if they didn’t murmured and complain.
King Nebuchadnezzar praised his own might saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?”(Daniel 4:30) God made an unforgettable reminder for him. God made him a monster, “he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.” (v33).
In the end, he learned to be humble and recognize the might of the Lord and praised Him, “Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.” (v37).
In modern time, we can also include the story of the Titanic, where prominent figures behind the ship state “Even God Himself cannot sink the ship.” I only wonder how they called God when the ship sunk. The Titanic has become known for the story of pride and punishment of God.
With our prideful heart, we sometimes need to suffer to be able to realize our place compared to God.
Christians suffer because of persecution
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. – Philippians 1:29
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. – 1 Peter 4:12
When you became a Christian, you had created enemies. Your new enemies are the world, your former friends (and family), and your own flesh. The world (unbelievers) and your former friends will mock you for your faith. You will also start to battle with your own flesh because Christian doctrine is against the nature of our flesh.
Christians suffer because of the devil’s attack
Not only the world, friends and the flesh are our new enemy. When you became Christian, you also declared war against the devil. When you were unsaved before, you are unaware of your alliance with the devil. You don’t need to be an extremely bad lawyer to be the devil’s advocate. Not recognizing the Father and Jesus and His salvation is just fine with the devil.
Just don’t forget that being with the Lord is the best place you’ll ever be. Even if you have all the riches in the world, but don’t recognize the Lord as God, you lack everything. Your temporary suffering cannot be compared to the eternal glory that we’ll have in heaven with the Lord.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. – Romans 8:18
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. – 2 Corinthians 4:17
Here are Bible verses for comfort:
And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. – Exodus 33:14
And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. – Deuteronomy 31:8
The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. – Psalm 9:9-10
I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. – Psalm 16:8
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. – Psalm 27:1-3
Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. – Psalm 32:7
I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. – Psalm 34:4
The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing. – Psalm 34:10
The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. – Psalm 37:17-19
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. – Psalm 46:1-3
Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. – Psalm 61:1-4
Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved. – Psalm 62:1-2
Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation – Psalm 91:14-16
The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. – Psalm 145:18-19
The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. – Proverbs 18:10
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. – Isaiah 12:2
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. – Isaiah 41:10
O Lord, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction. – Jeremiah 16:19
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Matthew 6: 31-34
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30
Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. – Luke 12:6-7
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. – John 14:27
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. – Romans 8:28
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. – Joshua 1:9
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety. – Psalm 4:8