I know this seems like a strange request, maybe you are not suffering at all right now, but trust me if you have never suffered (which I find hard to believe), are not suffering now, at some point you will. Does it matter how you suffer? Yes, I think it does according to the word of God.
We need to remember that everything in our lives is under the Sovereign hand of God. Nothing touches us unless it is through him. Not even the devil himself can touch one of God’s children unless God says it is okay.
We are told in 1 Peter 5:6-9 “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”
First, we see that we are to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand. We need to submit to whatever the suffering is at the moment; it could be the loss of a job, an illness that persists, a death of a loved one or an array of other things. Suffering comes in all kinds of forms. Yes, God brings the suffering to us, but it is not meant to crush us completely, but cause us to run to him and humbly submit to it; possibly a lesson from our Father in heaven is being given and we need to have our hearts turned toward God and our spiritual ears attentive to him and be ready and willing to receive whatever He is showing us.
We need to remember that He loves and cares for us, his intent is for our good. He is stretching our faith, growing us in ways we did not know we needed to be grown. We need to remain vigilant because the enemy of our souls sees our suffering and knows we may be down for the count and it is often at this time he moves in for the kill. He sees weakness and uncertainty and his desire is to kill and destroy us. However, he can do neither! Oh, he can push our buttons and make us turn our eyes away from the Lord, for a time, but the true child of God will always find their way back. What he cannot do is still our salvation!
God tells us to resist the devil and if we resist him he will flee from us. James 4:7 “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Isn’t it wonderful that God tells us everything we are to do when we suffer? He gives us a guide to follow if we only will.
The other thing we see in this passage is that we are not experiencing anything that other believers all over the world have not experienced or will experience. Christian’s are promised trials and tribulation in God’s word. John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world, ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Once we have submitted ourselves under God’s hand and opened our hearts to see and understand that God is moving and working in us, perfecting our faith; we need to rest secure in the knowledge that our suffering will end maybe suddenly, maybe over time, but end it will. God will strengthen us, and settle us once again. And during this entire process that can take days or months or maybe years for some, God is there; we are never, ever alone. Each day is an opportunity to submit ourselves, to lean in close to the Lord and sit at his feet while he feeds us, even in our suffering.
We also need to remember that even in our sufferings others are watching us. They may be seeing from us what it looks like to suffer in submission and maybe even joy while walking through a hard time. Our trial may be what has given them courage when it is their turn. Have you ever known someone who seems to flow through a trial with such grace that it almost seems too much to believe? That I believe it what it looks like when we submit to God’s Lordship, His discipline, His lessons for us in trials. Our suffering is never wasted, God uses it not only in our lives, but in the lives of others.
I personally have been close to friends who were suffering some pretty awful things, yet their faith was strong, their trust in God made more complete with each passing bad report. They leaned in and trusted themselves to the Almighty and truly it was a thing of beauty to behold. I want to be so close to God that even when I am walking through a trial or tribulation, others see Jesus in me.
We can trust our Maker to do in us what needs to be done and no more than needs to be done. We can trust Him to hold us even in our suffering and to get us safely on the other side of it. Hold tightly to His outstretched hands and let him be the one who takes you through deep waters all the while holding you afloat.
Suffer well children of God and may He be glorified and may you be changed to look ever more like your Lord and Savior!