For a long time, I had a wrong understanding of what it meant to suffer for Christ.
Until I realized that the suffering for Christ is not the way the world has painted it.
It is not what we think either.
What is Suffering for Christ?
There are many people in the world that suffer but it wasn’t orchestrated by God.
I’ve seen people try to put themselves through a certain type of suffering without the leading of the Spirit.
Our human nature often tries to please God through our understanding of what he wants rather than what God would have us do.
So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.1Samuel 15:22
Such suffering is in vain and there is no reward for it.
This is because suffering for Christ is when you sense the Spirit of God leading you to do something you wouldn’t naturally do.
God’s leading often surpasses man’s understanding. Often times, it may even look foolish and unreasonable to people around you.
Suffering for Christ entails going against your will to do God’s will
God knows each and every one of us, so he leads us to purify us as we obey his will.
For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.James 4:17
It’s very easy to follow the path everyone is taking, while ignoring the Spirit’s bidding. It may not look evil, but the moment God says no, then it has become evil to you, and not necessarily others.
Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.Romans 7:19
God is the only one who is capable of defining good, not our assumption or self righteousness.
So he reveals his goodness to us so we can align with his definition of goodness.
So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.Mark 10:18
It is called suffering because it is unpleasant and unnatural to the flesh.
How do we suffer for Christ?
There was a time I didn’t wear trousers because I felt not doing so was pleasing to God.
So I suffered unnecessarily when I wanted to mount bikes and many other things that would have been easier for me if I had worn trousers.
Same with make-up, adornments and everything else I ‘felt’ were made up of God’s will.
Now don’t get me wrong. The HolySpirit may convict you to stop wearing particular kind of clothes or let go of some adornments due to certain things.
These things may have become idols or latched unto your soul in an unhealthy fashion. It may also be for a different reason best known to God.
That commandment is specific to you alone, not everyone else.
These things are not bad in themselves but they become bad when we act contrary to God’s revealed word to us.
That is your ‘suffering’ because you have been personally convicted through the revealed word of God not to follow your will or what you consider normal to you and everyone else.
So we must be careful not to assume God’s instruction to us personally is for everyone else, except there are certain instructions laid out for us in scriptures, eg walking in the flesh.
Waiting is also a kind of suffering. You may have the resources to do something, but God is asking you to wait when your flesh wants to do.
I remember a season in my life where God asked me to wait somewhere when everything within me wanted to leave because I felt undervalued as a staff.
This kind of suffering wears out the power of your flesh over you. But you face the risk of looking foolish to a carnal man.
A beautiful and worthy risk!
Why do we have to suffer for Christ?
Suffering for Christ is to birth us into the perfection of God
They encouraged them to CONTINUE in the faith, reminding them that we must SUFFER many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.Acts 14:22
The sufferings of Christ, Paul, Peter, John and many others willing to follow Jesus are meant to show us a pattern of suffering we must follow.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,James 1:2
Anyone who tells you getting born again is an end to your suffering is lying to you.
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus WILL suffer persecution.2Timothy3:12
This is because following Jesus means you’ll be swimming against the tides.
Because the world is against God’s will, it will try to drown anything that’s standing for God.
We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is UNDER the CONTROL of the evil one.1John5:19
You won’t do what naturally comes to you or anyone around you anymore. But you’ll live a life contrary to the world’s understanding of things. And they will speak evil of you because you’re disrupting the process of ‘things’
Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.Luke 6:26
Before Christ, we didn’t have the HolySpirit to convict our fleshy nature.
But the moment we came into the new government of God, we are bound to suffer in the flesh.
So we will have to keep learning how to die to self daily so Christ can be revealed in us.
The things we did before without giving it much thought, we’ll encounter a new light that exposes our dark heart while longing to purify us.
Are all sufferings from God?
Not all sufferings are from God. Unbelievers suffer too yet they aren’t suffering for Christ.
Satan also thrives on the ignorance of believers and unleashes unnecessary suffering into their lives.
So we must pray, know our authority as believers, feed on the word and follow God’s leading always.
This will enable us to discern the suffering that is from God and that which is from the enemy.
God is not responsible for anything evil like sickness and every other unpleasant thing known to befall mankind.
In the book of Job we are made to see how Satan was the one who unleashed suffering on Job, not God.
God had been protecting Job all through his life and Job was unaware.
Have You not made a HEDGE AROUND Him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the landJob 1:10
So if God hadn’t been protecting Job since childhood, he would have died long ago!
God always protects his own!
Now some bad things may happen because of the nature of the world we live in. We may even fall sick and keep trusting God for healing without any physical result.
But because we are in Christ Jesus, we can be sure that all things are working out together for our good-Romans 8:28
We can rest assured knowing that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us-Romans 8:18
Image by Mattheus Bertelli