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First world Christians have a problem with suffering.  We simply live too much with the idea of comfort.

Now, I am not saying that we need to go be ascetics.  Nope.

But rather, we have this idea that we are supposed to be comfortable, that comfort is the normal state for Christians.  If we are good enough, we will never suffer.  Very Old Testament.

And if we do suffer, then we have done something wrong or the Lord is inept at preventing it (or worse, that He is angry and belligerent).

My friend, we must stop that nonsense.  Suffering in this life–financially, physically, etc–is not something to be afraid of.  Suffering for eternity is.

The working of the Lord is so counter-culture sometimes, isn’t it?  With Him, when we are weak, we are strong (2 Cor 12:10), the “things that are not” nullify the “things that are” (1 Cor 1:28), and if you give, then you get even more (Luke 6:38).

Another one of His “counters” is the idea that there can be peace and even joy in suffering.  Just as Stephen wasn’t trying to beg for mercy in front of the Sanhedrin (he surely knew what was going to happen to him), but instead was enraptured by a vision the Lord gave him right then, we too can find the Lord most intimately in our suffering and be so delighted with Him that suffering, though painful, holds no fear.  When he was being stoned, he did not cry out to be saved from the pain, but rather for his soul and forgiveness for his attackers. (Acts 7:54-60)

This is what we modern Christians need to hear, see, read, learn, accept.  The Bible never promised a perfect life, even if you live perfectly.  Jesus lived perfectly and He went hungry, had His heart broken, was beaten, falsely accused, mocked, and killed.  In fact, we will endure hardship and suffering if we are His followers, and that is a hard thing to wrap our heads around.

But the one thing we are not taught, not truly taught, is the glory, courage, peace, and even joy that is only found surrounded by the fire of trial.

Let’s look to the Christians of old as well as our current brethren who suffer and use them as examples of a holy life accepting suffering with boldness and love and courage.

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