No. Not on the surface.
Quora states that suffering in the world today includes:
Sex slavery in India
Women genital mutilation in Africa
Displaced Puerto Ricans after the hurricane
We know that suffering can include:
Unfair treatment and discrimination
Grief, sadness, fear, depression, anxiety, worry, panic, mood swings, AD&D, and a slew of emotional problems.
Following of me is not like following of some other masters. (John Bunyan)
You would think that if I submit my life to a living God that there would be something in it for me. If I follow an all powerful God then my life should be better somehow. It should be better then people who don’t follow my God, yet on the surface our lives don’t look that much different.
We both go to work, have relationship problems, parent children who are often selfish and hurtful, get married, divorce, have affairs, get sick, and die.
We both hurt and hurt others.
We get diagnosis that change our lives.
We have relational pain and cause relational pain.
We worry, have fear, and panic.
We both participate in wars, get shot, and are tortured.
We get assaulted and have crimes committed against us.
We commit crimes and go to jail.
We are spit on, lied to, and lie.
We share in the same trials and suffering.
The Christian may experience persecution for their faith and non-Christians may face persecution for holding their values.
Christians may struggle with following God and non-Christians may struggle to do the right thing.
Christians may encounter a spiritual battle and non-Christians may experience inner turmoil.
We share with the world in pain and suffering.
Is Christian suffering different?
There are two women at work. Both are struggling with the same issue. One woman doesn’t go to church and her husband recently quit his job of 22 years because he couldn’t take it anymore. She now is coping with the aftermath. A co-worker is a Christian. Her husband is on the verge of quitting and they struggle to navigate difficult changes in their life. Her husband wants to quit because he can’t take it anymore. What makes the Christian’s suffering different, or is it?
The wind sits always on my face and the foaming rage of the sea of this world, and the proud and lofty waves thereof do continually beat upon the sides of the bark or ship. (John Bunyan)
1 Peter 2:21 “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps”
Our suffering is different because we follow in Jesus Christ steps. Following Jesus is not like following other masters.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”
Christians are afflicted, just like the world, but we are not crushed, perplexed, driven to despair, forsaken, struck down, or destroyed.
2 Corinthians 1:4 “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”
Christians suffer, and our suffering helps us accomplish our main mission in life which is love our neighbor as our self. Our suffering can be used to provide others comfort. Not all non-Christians use their suffering for a greater purpose though some do.
2 Corinthians 4:17 “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.”
Preparing us for an eternal weight. Only God’s people can say this. Our afflictions are hard and burdensome, but in comparison to eternity they are light afflictions. Non-Christians cannot say this. Our suffering is different.
He therefore that will not run hazards, and that is afraid to venture a drowning, let him not set foot into this vessel (John Bunyan)
In the moment of extreme affliction we do not feel blessed. When we cry out to God to take our thorn and He tells us His grace is sufficient we do not feel joyful. When the child doesn’t come home, our husband leaves, the diagnosis comes, or we find ourselves at the funeral home we do not feel like thanking God for our light and momentary affliction. Spend a few years in a dark depression and you will be prone to curse God not thank Him for the opportunity to empathize with others in their depression.
The most beautiful moments of the Christian life, however, can occur at the times of our greatest suffering. For it is at those moments we see Him do miracles. It is then we see our need for Him and acknowledge His control in our life. It is at those moments we are humbled and Christ becomes supreme and that fellow brothers and sisters is what it is all about. If our suffering leads us into the arms of Christ and He uses it for our good and His glory then our suffering is different. It has eternal purpose.
I wish that following God exempted us from suffering. I wish that we were guaranteed problem free lives. I wish that God would have asked me how to orchestrate the world. If He had I would have done things differently. I wish children didn’t have to hurt, mothers didn’t have to grieve, fathers never became widowers, and we lived in a disease free world. Yet, we are promised that we shall suffer as our Father.
Christian suffering is different. It has eternal purpose and if we let God work through our suffering He can accomplish beautiful things. God touches peoples lives through our suffering and changes hearts so that they will humbly submit to His plans. Through affliction we are emptied and He is full. Do not grow weary in suffering. Seek God. Come to Christ in prayer and submit to His plan for your life. The most beautiful moments in my life were not when things were going well, but when things were all wrong for it was then that I was emptied and Christ reigned supreme.
For His glory and our good. You do not suffer for not. Your suffer as your Father suffered and through that He will do amazing things.
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