Q/A Friday: How Can Suffering Be a Blessing?

I Peter 3:14 reads, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. …”

Peter says, “Even if that commitment to doing good things is not well received and you are persecuting, count it a blessing.” Is Peter crazy? If he is, James is also out-of-his-mind for telling us to count it as joy when we face trials (Jam 1:2). Joseph would also be “nuts” when he told his brothers their harm was meant for good (Gen 50:20).

None of these men are actually crazy, because suffering can be a blessing. Let me give you a list of blessings for those who “suffer for righteousness sake.”

  • Those who suffer are strengthened (I Pet 5:10). Sufferers gain the strength they need from an omnipotent God. Without this promise, suffering would destroy all of us.
  • Those who suffer are given the gift of endurance (Jas 1:2-3). Sufferers learn to cherish the reality of surviving the trial by the grace of God.
  • Those who suffer are given a deeper appreciation for eternity (II Cor 4:17-18). How many of us have been in the middle of suffering and been only able to focus on one truth: in eternity this will all be gone.
  • Those who suffer have God on their side (Rom 8:31). When God is with you, as John Knox likes to say, you are always in the majority. You are always on the winning side. Suffering will not be the end of you.
  • Those who suffer know the sufficiency of God’s grace (II Cor 12:9-10). In every suffering, God gives us the exact dosage of grace we need.
  • Those who suffer know the importance of the church. (I Cor 12:26). The body of Christ becomes so important to us when we face a trial. Without the church, we are very much alone.
  • Those who suffer do so to be a testimony to others. Remember the blind man in John 9? Jesus said he suffered in order for God’s works to be displayed in Him (John 9:3). As a result of God’s healing of him, he would be a walking, talking, seeing witness for the Gospel to everyone around him.
  • Those who suffer are purified (I Pet 1:7). Sin is purged during suffering, worldly pleasures are pushed aside, priorities are set, lessons are learned, etc.
  • Those who suffer are identified with Christ (II Tim 1:8). To live as Christ is to suffer as Christ.
  • Those who suffer can comfort other sufferers (II Cor 1:3-4). People who suffer can approach others suffering and say “I know how you feel. I have been in your shoes. Let me help you.”

You could add to the list these blessings of suffering: to strengthen our commitment to God, to produce discernment, to help us be more empathetic, to discipline our thinking, to show us true wisdom, to deepen our relationship with Christ, to lead us to repent of sin, to teach us to be more thankful, or to increase our faith

I have many Christians who talk about the school of suffering and how the lessons they learned during those difficulties could never have been learned any other way. John Piper has written,

“I have never heard anyone say, ‘The really deep lessons of my life have come through times of ease and comfort.’ But I have heard strong saints say, ‘Every significant advance I have ever made in grasping the depths of God’s love and growing deep with him has come through suffering’.”[1]

Questions

If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please it to charlesheck@cox.net or pose your question in the comments section of this post.

[1] A Godward Life, pg. 287

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