If you want to generate an interesting conversation, ask people about suffering. There appears to be a lot of opinion on suffering, the Bible, Jesus and us. I may not know a lot but I do know there is a right and wrong suffering in the Word of God. Instead of looking at the wrong type of suffering I want to consider the suffering that honours and glorifies God.
Yes, there is a kind of suffering that brings glory to God. Some will dispute it. Some will say that God just wants to wrap us up in cotton balls, plant hedges around us and wants to protect us from all harm. Yet God has declared his children holy, enabled us to live holy lives and has told us to serve him in an unholy place. He has made us citizens of his Kingdom but has told us to serve him in a place that is hostile to his Kingdom. What we have been made into is in direct contrast to the character of this world.You don't think there will be suffering as a result?
The only type of suffering that glorifies God is the type that happens for doing what is right. When we suffering for doing good in the face of evil our God is pleased. It is Jesus who is glorified when we suffer for bearing his name. This is the suffering that the Word talks about. It is not suffering from the flu or cancer or any other disease. It is not suffering for doing wrong. How does that glorify Jesus? But when we suffer because we mentioned Jesus to someone, this glorifies Jesus.
Too many of us try to avoid suffering altogether, claiming it is not God's will yet the evidence from the Word is overwhelming. Were not obedient followers of God thrown into a furnace or a lion's den? Did David not have to flee from Saul? Were innocent prophets not hated and killed? Was Stephen not stoned? Did Moses not have to suffer under his calling? What was Paul's great reward on this earth:
And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. (2 Timothy 1:11-12)
There is suffering that we will face because of our obedience to Jesus. People do not like us. People think we are idiots and superstitious, lacking in intelligence. At best they think we are misguided. But that is okay because the only value we see in them is the fact God loves them. Their opinion, ideas, money, influence holds no value for us. Our perspective is different. Our source is different. Our longing and desire is different. We can face suffering and press on because we know the thing our God values the most is obedience and faithfulness.
Apostle Paul summed it up nicely for us:
That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. (v 12)
No matter what I face, no matter the cost, I have joy and peace because I know whom I have believed. The world can say what it wants but I am convinced. My treasure is not found in this place. I have given my life to Jesus, my heart, mind, and soul. I am convinced that what Jesus said is true and I act upon it. If it means I must face some suffering for standing on the truth then it is a small matter compared to what I have and will receive.
If we are convinced that Jesus is truth, we can face anything. And I don't mean face it with sack cloth and ashes but with great joy and peace. Suffering for the Name is a privilege. Suffering for our own stupidity is not God glorifying, but suffering because we follow Jesus is a thing we should expect and be glad to do.