Desiring God, 10: Suffering

Richard Wurmbrand was beaten, imprisoned, and persecuted by Communists for fourteen years. It deeply affected Piper’s life when Piper heard Wurmbrand discussing how Jesus chose suffering.

Some people feel that Christians have a good life, even if it all turns out to be a hoax. However, Paul stated that if Christ

 was not raised then we are the most to be pitied of all. Paul’s Christian walk was one of chosen suffering. But he did it in hope. He had joy in his sufferings because of his hope. If his hope turned out to be false, then his whole life’s premise was ruined. Paul could have had the good life with the prerogatives of Roman citizenship. But he left it behind in order to suffer for Christ. It seems strange that so many Christians now equate the good life with Christianity.

He takes a quick detour to lump together disease with persecution. On the one hand, there is a difference between disease and persecution (he alliterates them as conflict and cancer). Conflict is something done to us on purpose by antagonists. Cancer is something that happens as a part of life. On the other hand, both conflict and cancer are similar in that we endure them with Jesus and for Him. They share another commonality: Satan intends them both to destroy our faith and God intends them both to purify our faith. Further, it is not always possible to tell the difference between the pain of persecution and the pain of sickness. One may contract physical ailments as part of one’s service to the Lord. No matter the immediate source of our suffering, we can be faithful as we suffer with and for Christ.

Paul’s statement that his life is pitiable without the resurrection of Jesus is an indictment of today’s “good-life” Christians. He chose a life of suffering that included hunger, thirst, being poorly dressed, buffeted, homeless, reviled, persecuted, slandered and garbage. His choice was foolish if there were no resurrection from the dead. Humans instinctively seek to avoid suffering. Yet, Paul chose it. Why?

Suffering is a gift.

Suffering is a normal part of being a Christian.

God’s universal purpose for all Christian suffering is more contentment in God and less satisfaction in self and the world (265).

 OK – this is a bit sketchy and incomplete but I don’t know when I will get back to finish it, so I am posting it as is.

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