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The Glory of Suffering

“May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of his suffering!”[1]. This is what a pair of Moravian missionaries cried out as they sailed away to sell themselves into slavery to preach the gospel to those who had never heard it. This story may seem extreme to some. However, God actually requires sacrifice of this kind, and even more, according to His Word. In fact, every mighty man or woman of God that was used in the Bible had to suffer through great trials and tribulation. It is a prerequisite that every believer endure testing and persecution to prove one’s faithfulness. God is just and he is not a respecter of persons (Ref. Rom. 2:11). If the decision is made to follow Him, we will go through many trials and tribulations. As Peter states, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ,” (1 Pet. 1:7) [3].

As the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus gave his life as an example of what every believer could ultimately face. When we said yes to Jesus, a covenant was made that agreed this life was no longer our own and all would be forsaken. There must be a preparation within our hearts, souls, and minds that at whatever the cost we will do anything we are asked of by God. We are not exempt from partaking in the sufferings with Christ (Ref. 1 Pet. 4:13). The account of Job in the Bible is a renown example of how Christians must withstand and bear persecution.

The account of Job in the Bible is a renown example of how Christians must withstand and bear persecution.

The story of Job is discussed and interpreted in religious and academic instances, but none seem to answer plainly or fully. In the philosophical sense some scholars ask, why do bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people? Or why does God permit evil to happen? [2] Whereas those in religious circles focus on the blessing in the end rather than the process. Although both statements are important to acknowledge, God’s intent was to test Job to determine if he would remain steadfast and faithful. The Bible says Job was, “a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8) [4]. Job was a servant of God and was the epitome of a righteous man. However, being an utterly perfect person in religious and moral regards does not stop God from certifying His people through hardships. 

The first chapter of Job describes the narrative of God speaking with Satan. As Satan stood before God to give him an account of his doings, God asked a shocking question: “have you considered my servant Job?” (Job 1:8) [4].

Satan knew that the hand of God was upon Job, his family, and his possessions because he was a God-fearing man. But Satan believed that if the hedge was lifted, Job would curse God; he believed the only reason Job remained firm in his faith was because God kept him safe and secure. In response, God gave Satan permission to touch all he had and the power to do anything he wanted, besides take Job’s life. This is contrary to some Christian beliefs as to why persecution arises. It has been said in some charismatic and evangelical churches that tribulation is the work of Satan and it only comes by him. Many also believe that it is a punishment because of sin and blessings only come about by pure faith. In Job’s circumstance, however, this is untrue. 

Satan, with permission from God, destroyed all of Job’s possessions, killed his children, and even attacked him physically.

Satan, with permission from God, destroyed all of Job’s possessions, killed his children, and even attacked him physically. Job’s wife and friends thought that Job had sinned and it was the result of the plagues that tormented his life. Despite their disbelief, Job remained unwavering in his faith and would not succumb to cursing God. Even when Job didn’t understand why he was being put through such distress and pain, God showed His sovereignty. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isa. 55:8) [3].

Job acknowledged the wisdom of God was greater than what he could understand as he continued to submit to His will. The Bible says that God in return restored to Job a double portion, only after he prayed for his friends that spoke against him. 

1Pe 2:19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. [4]
1Pe 2:20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. [4]
1Pe 2:21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: [4]

The truth is, as Christians, we are not promised that everything in our life will go well and be easy.

The truth is, as Christians, we are not promised that everything in our life will go well and be easy. Job is just one example of many righteous people in the Bible that were tested to show their loyalty to God. Paul said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18) [4]. The question proposed is this: will you continue to remain in the will of God and be faithful when you suffer? When those closest to you stop the fight and persecute you, will you keep your eyes on Jesus and His Word? James said, “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (Jas. 1:2-3) [4]. Will you keep your joy in the valley as when you are on the mountain top? God does not change; He will not accept anything less than complete obedience, just as he required it from His servants in His Word. When we grow weary, we must remember those who have gone before us and know that we can overcome. We must remember the sacrifice of Jesus and the Word that says, “he was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opened not His mouth” (Act. 8:32) [4]. It is difficult at times to understand all that God is doing, however, we must continue to trust His plan that He will reveal His glory through it. 

It is difficult at times to understand all that God is doing, however, we must continue to trust His plan that He will reveal His glory through it. 

2Co 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. [3]
2Co 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, [3]
2Co 4:18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. [3]

References:
1. Reidhead, Paris. “May the Lamb That Was Slain Receive the Reward of His Sufferings.” Thebereancall.org, 3 June 2014, (www.thebereancall.org/content/may-lamb-was-slain-receive-reward-his-sufferings.)
2. “Theodicy.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodicy#Definition_and_etymology.)
3. King James Bible. Thomas Nelson, 1991.
4. The Holy Bible: New King James Version: NKJV. Thomas Nelson, 2010.

Key Words: 
Suffering
Trials and tribulation
Tribulations
Trial
Distress
Endure
Affliction
Afflicted
Book of Job

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