Suffering and the Gospel

Let’s face it, most of us don’t like it when things don’t go our way, in fact when things don’t go our way we often go down paths we shouldn’t in our actions and thought lives.  This is especially true when we find ourselves in trials and suffering.  For some individuals the path is complaining; others try to get out of the situation by any means necessary.  Each person is different in how they handle trials, but God’s word has encouragement for us on how to view and handle them.

Change Your View

First we need to examine how we are looking at trials.  Most of us, including myself, view trials as a bad thing; something to be avoided or would rather not have to deal with.  See how Paul thinks about trials in Romans.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:3–5, NASB95)

Look not only at the logic of this passage but also at the progression. If the passage were diagrammed it would look something like this:

Trials→ Perseverance →   Proven Character →  Hope – hope doesn’t disappoint because God loves us a lot.

So when we are suffering God is working in our lives, he is doing something to us, he is trying to make us more like Jesus Christ his Son (Rom. 8:28-29).

Change Your Actions

Now that we have had a change in the way we think about trials we also need to change how we respond in them.

An important passage to consider is this:

For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment. (1 Peter 2:19, NLT)

So God is OK when we suffer unfair treatment.  God knows that he is in control of this world and could change everything if he wanted to, but because of his plan he is allowing you to go through a trial. Therefore, we need to suffer well in these trials.

Encouragement

So, our goal should not be to get out of suffering when it is happening, but to ask ourselves “What is God trying to do in my life?”  So if you are going through trials try to see what God is doing in your life, and suffer well knowing that God is pleased when you are going through trials and handling them well.  

Milton Vincent in A Gospel Primer simply puts it best:

More than anything else could ever do, the gospel enables me to embrace my tribulations and thereby position myself to gain full benefit from them. For the gospel is one great permanent circumstance in which I live and move; and every hardship in my life is allowed by God only because it serves His gospel purposes in me. When I view my circumstances in this light, I realize that gospel is not just one piece of good news that fits into my life somewhere among the bad. I realize instead the gospel makes genuinely good news out of every other aspect of my life, including my severest trials. The good news about my trials is that God is forcing them to bow to His gospel purposes and do good unto me by improving my character and making me more conformed to the image of Christ.

Joshua M. GreinerJoshua M. Greiner
Joshua is the Pastor of Faith West Community Ministries. He has been on staff with Faith since 2010. He graduated from Purdue University with a BA in Political Science and from Faith Bible Seminary with a MDIV. He is married to his wife Shana and is the Father of Winston.
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