SUFFERING FOR THE CAUSE OF CHRIST – PART TWOFrom The Heart
Publish date: 08/08/2010
Thus has God fulfilled what He foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ (the Messiah) should undergo ill treatment and be afflicted and suffer. Acts 3:18 AMP
Jesus suffered and died for us, bearing our sin, shame, sickness, disease, torment and death. The suffering that Jesus bore, in His own body, was necessary for us in order that we would, through Him, escape the suffering of eternal damnation. He rose also from the dead for us, so that we might receive His life.
For you have been granted [the privilege] for Christ's sake not only to believe in (adhere to, rely on, and trust in) Him, but also to suffer in His behalf. 30 So you are engaged in the same conflict which you saw me [wage] and which you now hear to be mine [still]. Philippians 1:29-30 AMP
It is a privilege to live for Christ and a privilege also to suffer on His behalf. Only when you truly treasure His sacrifice made for you, will you realize that it is a privilege, not a shame or a hardship to suffer for Him.
But the Lord said to him, Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the descendants of Israel; 16 For I will make clear to him how much he will be afflicted and must endure and suffer for My name's sake. Acts 9:15-16 AMP
When you truly accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have a revelation of how much He has done for you, in dying for you, and you are now motivated to devote yourself also to fully live for Him. This commitment means that you will also inevitably suffer on His behalf. The suffering you are to bear is not sickness or disease, but it is the suffering of persecution and also the hardships connected with what it takes to preach the Gospel to ALL people, whether it is received or not, so that on That Day none will have an excuse before God. Look at what Paul endured for the sake of the Gospel:
We put no obstruction in anybody's way [we give no offense in anything], so that no fault may be found and [our] ministry blamed and discredited. 4 But we commend ourselves in every way as [true] servants of God: through great endurance, in tribulation and suffering, in hardships and privations, in sore straits and calamities,5 In beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless watching, hunger; 6 By innocence and purity, knowledge and spiritual insight, longsuffering and patience, kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in unfeigned love; 7 By [speaking] the word of truth, in the power of God, with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand [to attack] and for the left hand [to defend]; 8 Amid honor and dishonor; in defaming and evil report and in praise and good report. [We are branded] as deceivers (impostors), and [yet vindicated as] truthful and honest. 9 [We are treated] as unknown and ignored [by the world], and [yet we are] well-known and recognized [by God and His people]; as dying, and yet here we are alive; as chastened by suffering and [yet] not killed; 10 As grieved and mourning, yet [we are] always rejoicing; as poor [ourselves, yet] bestowing riches on many; as having nothing, and [yet in reality] possessing all things. 2 Corinthians 6:3-10 AMP
Are they [ministering] servants of Christ (the Messiah)? I am talking like one beside himself, [but] I am more, with far more extensive and abundant labors, with far more imprisonments, [beaten] with countless stripes, and frequently [at the point of] death. 24 Five times I received from [the hands of] the Jews forty [lashes all] but one; 25 Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been aboard a ship wrecked at sea; a [whole] night and a day I have spent [adrift] on the deep; 26 Many times on journeys, [exposed to] perils from rivers, perils from bandits, perils from [my own] nation, perils from the Gentiles, perils in the city, perils in the desert places, perils in the sea, perils from those posing as believers [but destitute of Christian knowledge and piety]; 27 In toil and hardship, watching often [through sleepless nights], in hunger and thirst, frequently driven to fasting by want, in cold and exposure and lack of clothing. 28 And besides those things that are without, there is the daily [inescapable pressure] of my care and anxiety for all the churches! 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 AMP
You can see that Paul did not suffer sickness to glorify God, but he did suffer great opposition, in the spirit and in the flesh, and much persecution.
So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength). 2 Corinthians 12:10 AMP
We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way], but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair; 9 We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven), but not deserted [to stand alone]; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out and destroyed; 10 Always carrying about in the body the liability and exposure to the same putting to death that the Lord Jesus suffered, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be shown forth by and in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 AMP
Because we have Jesus Christ living in our hearts, we will never be totally defeated. In the end the devil never wins. The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost always prevail. Whatever the devil intends for harm, the Lord will turn it around for good and frustrate his plans. So take heart - continue to keep your eyes on Him and continue to walk in His joy – you will finish your course, you will run and complete your race and you will win your prize!