crossHave you suffered? Have you seen others suffer and wondered why? Everyone knows how the world persecuted the early Christian church, and the world began to so shortly after the apostles began to preach. In Acts 5:17-42, Luke tells us how Jerusalem’s High Priest, all the High Priest’s companions, and members of the local party of the Sadducees became extremely jealous of the apostles. So they had the apostles arrested and whipped. What’s astounding is how the apostles reacted.

Acts 5:41-42 Good News Translation (GNT)

41 As the apostles left the Council, they were happy, because God had considered them worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of Jesus. 42 And every day in the Temple and in people’s homes they continued to teach and preach the Good News about Jesus the Messiah.

When confronted with The Problem of Evil, instead of losing their faith, the apostles reacted joyfully. The apostles understood why they suffered. Because they followed the example and the teaching of Jesus, they suffered to glorify Christ Jesus before their fellow men.

Hebrews 12:4-6 Good News Translation (GNT)

For in your struggle against sin you have not yet had to resist to the point of being killed. Have you forgotten the encouraging words which God speaks to you as his children?

“My child, pay attention when the Lord corrects you,
and do not be discouraged when he rebukes you.
Because the Lord corrects everyone he loves,
and punishes everyone he accepts as a child.”

At Jesus’ crucifixion,  instead standing by Jesus, the apostles had run away and suffered the pangs of conscience. Now they proudly preached the Word. They used their own suffering as an example for others.

Often, however, we neither know why nor for whom we suffer. So it was that when Jesus’ apostles saw a man born blind, the apostles asked a question.

John 9:1-3 Good News Translation (GNT)

Jesus answered, “His blindness has nothing to do with his sins or his parents’ sins. He is blind so that God’s power might be seen at work in him. As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been born blind. His disciples asked him, “Teacher, whose sin caused him to be born blind? Was it his own or his parents’ sin?”

Jesus answered, “His blindness has nothing to do with his sins or his parents’ sins. He is blind so that God’s power might be seen at work in him.

Then, Jesus cured the man’s blindness. Afterwards that man would say: ““One thing I do know: I was blind, and now I see” (John 9:25).

So it is that sometimes we see people suffering knowing that they do so for the sake of others, and sometimes we see people suffering, but we do not know why they suffer. Perhaps that is why the Apostle Paul warned us.

Philippians 2:3 Good News Translation (GNT)

Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves.

Everyone suffers, and God makes use of our pain.

Romans 8:28 Good News Translation (GNT)

28 We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose.

But how does God use our pain? Sometimes we know. Often we do not. In either event, when we or our loved ones suffer, we must trust in the Lord. We must remember what we hope for.

Hebrews 11:1 Good News Translation (GNT)

1 To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.

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