I Peter 3:14 says that suffering can be for the sake of righteousness. Let me give you a list of blessings for those who “suffer for righteousness sake.”
Suffering can be a blessing because suffering can strengthen the inner man. “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (I Peter 5:10). Sufferers gain the strength they need from an omnipotent God. Without this promise, suffering would destroy all of us.
Suffering can be a blessing because it brings about endurance. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3). Sufferers learn to cherish the reality of surviving the trial by the grace of God.
Suffering can be a blessing because it deepens one’s appreciation for eternity. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (II Corinthians 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.
Suffering can be a blessing because God is on our side. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 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.
Suffering can be a blessing because God’s grace is sufficient. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (II Corinthians 12:9-10). In every suffering, God gives us the exact dosage of grace we need.
Suffering can be a blessing because the church is with you. “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (I Corinthians 12:26). The body of Christ becomes so important to us when we face a trial. Without the church, we are very much alone.
Suffering can be a blessing because it can 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.
Suffering can be a blessing because it purifies. “So that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:7). Sin is purged during suffering, worldly pleasures are pushed aside, priorities are set, lessons are learned, etc.
Suffering can be a blessing because it identifies with Christ. “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God” (II Timothy 1:8). To live as Christ is to suffer as Christ.
Suffering can be a blessing because it can comfort other sufferers. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (II Corinthians 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, and to increase our faith. The blessings of suffering are life-changing.
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