The Purpose of Suffering


I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippains 4:13)

Do you ever find yourself complaining throughout your day about silly frivolous things? Do you complain when it takes 20 minutes to get through the drive through at Burger King even though there are only two cars ahead of you? Do you complain when your tired and you just don’t want to do your homework, or the dishes? How about not wanting to go to work, or do your job while you are there? I’ll be the first to admit that I can sometimes be a big complainer––just ask my wife. The truth of the matter is that we really have absolutely nothing to complain about. It must sadden the LORD to listen to us grumble and complain about such minor things in our lives.
In 1 Corinthians 10:10-11, we can read about how the Israelite nation had this very problem. After they were freed from Egyptian bondage, and led into the wilderness, some of them began to complain and grumble about the conditions that they were living in. Some of them lost their lives because of their complaining. The Corinthians were told not to grumble, as some of them did, and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples, and were written down as a warning to us.
How strong this message is! The complaining that we so easily find ourselves doing is not very becoming of a Christian, but suffering for righteousness is.
When I hear someone is having a bad day, I usually tell them that you’ve got to have some bad days to appreciate the good ones. They usually tell me to shut up and go away!
To know Christ is to have fellowship in His sufferings. Philippians 3:10-11 tells us that to be a disciple is to suffer. According to 1 Peter 2:21-24, we have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for us, leaving His life as an example for you to follow in His steps. Then in Matthew 5:10-12, it tells us we are blessed when we are persecuted for the sake of righteousness. James 1:2-4 says that when we suffer, we also grow.
Here is a story by an unknown author that I’d like to share with you. One day, a man found the cocoon of an Emperor Moth. He took it home so that he could watch the moth come out of the cocoon. On the day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the moth for several hours as it struggled to force it’s body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and just seemed to be stuck. Then the man, in his kindness, decided to help the moth, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of cocoon. The moth emerged easily, but it had a swollen body and small shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the moth, expecting that at any moment the wings would enlarge and expand enough to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened. In fact, the little moth spent the rest of it’s life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled legs. It was never able to fly.
What the man, in his kindness and haste did not understand, was that the restricting cocoon, and the struggle required for the moth to get through that tiny opening were necessary. God had planned it that way to force fluid from the body of the moth into it’s wings. It would then be ready for flight once it finally achieved it’s freedom. Freedom and flight would only come after the struggle. By depriving the moth of that struggle, the man deprived the moth of health and great achievement.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. Our sufferings make us who we are. Read Romans 5:3-5. Trials produce many great qualities in us. We are blessed when we suffer for righteousness, 1 Peter 3:14-18. The conclusion of this is 2 Corinthians 4:8-11, we glorify God in our suffering.
We all have struggles, we all have trials. What we must understand is that the suffering here in this world and this life is not going to last forever. If we as Christians can continue to endure and fight the good fight, then we know that there is a home waiting for us in Heaven. If you are not yet a Christian, then you do not yet have that hope of being with God in the end. You need to asses your situation and find out what is keeping you from the Lord. He wants you, and you need Him, so become a child of God today.

––Eric Olson, Waupaca Church of Christ, Wuapaca, Wisconsin

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 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.

(2 Corinthians 4:8-10, 16)
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