Author: Ron Graham
Our Response to Trials
—Part 2, Right reactions
Suffering produces various responses in people. In Part 1 we looked at four wrong responses to suffering. Now, in Part 2, we look at four right responses.
It is easy to "become weary and discouraged in your souls" however we can rise above our discouragement by "looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:1-3).
When we consider how Jesus suffered yet endured and went on to victory, we can be encouraged to endure our own sufferings and not give up or despair.
Those who endure the testing of their faith find great reassurance and encouragement. They can in turn encourage others, as Paul did:
Romans 16:20; 8:16-18,37
¶“The God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. We are more than conquerors through him who loved us. We suffer with him that we may be glorified with him... the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed” (Romans 16:20, 8:16-18,37). )
Paul, and the people he served in the gospel, did not have an easy time in their faith, otherwise why would he exhort them to be "rejoicing in hope, patient in troubles, devoted to prayer" (Romans 12:12)?
Those folk had hope for the future but tribulation in the present. So they were encouraged to be patient and prayerful while they suffered.
¶“4... in everything we show ourselves to be servants of God in great endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distressing problems. We endure beatings, imprisonments, and riots. We labor, without proper sleep or meals. We endure in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in sincere love... ” (2Corinthians 6:4-6).
With all that we have seen, it becomes clear that the correct response to suffering is to accept it and submit to it with endurance. This attitude is beautifully expressed by Paul...
¶“16So we don't lose heart. Even though our outer person is decaying, yet our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17We see our [earthly] tribulation as a burden for the moment, light to carry. That's because it works for us a [heavenly] glory lasting for eternity, a counterweight far exceeding our tribulations. 18We don't look upon the things which are seen. Rather, we look at the things which are not seen! For the things which are seen last only for a moment, but the things which are not seen last for eternity” (2Corinthians 4:16-18).
Peter says, "As you share the suffering of Christ, rejoice, and you will be overjoyed when his glory is revealed" (1Peter 4:13). This echoes the beatitude, "Happy are you when they insult and persecute you... Be full of joy and celebrate because your reward in heaven is great" (Matthew 5:11-12).
That statement is applicable even when suffering is not caused by men speaking evil against us, because all suffering may be understood as Satan reviling us, "a messenger of Satan to buffet" (2Corinthians 12:7). This, you will recall, was the case with Job's suffering.
To the world, joy may seem an inappropriate response to tribulation. However the joy is sustained by the conviction that glory follows suffering and our suffering has a good purpose (Romans 8:16-18).
¶“16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit, that we are the children of God. 17Now if we are children, then we are also heirs. We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ —so long as we are also joint sufferers with him, and thereby share his glory. 18I consider our present day sufferings as not worthy of comparison with the glory that will be revealed to us” (Romans 8:16-18).